The story of the little cow who arrived at the Meads family farm in Illinois years ago has become a tall tale.
Blosom, who once was considered a barnyard misfit because of her inability to birth a calf, has grown up (and up and up) to become the World’s Tallest Cow, officials from the Guinness World Records recently announced. The 13-year-old Holstein measures 6 feet, 4.8 inches from hoof to the shoulder area, known as the withers.
“She’s massive,” said Patty Meads-Hanson at her farm amid the hills north of Freeport, Ill., in the northwest corner of the state. “Usually people can stand on each side of a cow and have a conversation, but not with Blosom. You can’t see over her. Honestly, if we had measured her at about age 8, she would have been taller. I think she’s shrunk with age.”
Blosom’s veterinarian, Lynne Acebey at Orangeville Animal Health Services, says large-frame Holsteins such as Blosom are generally 5 feet tall to the shoulder and weigh 1,200 to 1,400 pounds. Blosom is estimated to weigh 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.
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Wearing an ear tag with the name “Blosom” on it, the animal arrived on the farm as one in a herd of heifers when she was 8 weeks old. Over time, Meads-Hanson and her dad, Gene Meads, discovered that the cow could not reproduce or provide milk. They guessed that maybe she put her energy instead into growing to an unusual size.
“Any place else, poor Blosom would be gone, but my dad had a soft heart,” says Meads-Hanson, who took over the family farm after her father died four years ago. “My kids and I wanted so much to keep her as a pet.”
As a calf, Blosom loved attention, bellowing to be noticed when someone walked out the door, Meads-Hanson remembers.
“Well, now she’s getting all the attention,” she said.
Since news of the Guinness record broke, Blosom has become a rural celebrity, drawing a steady stream of visitors to the farm.
Getting Blosom into the record books was a yearlong process. Recently Guinness photographers came from England to take the cow’s picture.
Every morning, Meads-Hanson takes Blosom a pail of hay and oats, rubs the cow’s chin and scratches her soft ears. Then Blosom goes to pasture, sometimes visiting neighboring cows across the fence or eating grass in the company of calves that Meads-Hanson brings from other farms.
Blosom also serves as a greeter for Memory Lane Craft Retreat, a side business that Meads-Hanson operates on the farm. In that role, Blosom wears a hat and stands for pictures.
“Blosom was unable to do what a dairy cow is supposed to do, but she was destined for greatness,” says Meads-Hanson, who is waiting for the hoopla to die down so she can focus more on her harvest. “She has a way of making people smile, and she doesn’t have a mean bone in that big body.”
On the bottom of the Guinness certificate it says: “Officially Amazing.”
“But I always knew that,” Meads-Hanson says. “She’s my friend.”