Inmates at a Hunter Correctional Centre rescue orphaned calf

Inmates at a Correctional Centre in the Hunter have rescued an orphaned calf, and now they’re hand raising it.

Staff and inmates involved in the cattle breeding program at St Heliers Correction Centre in Muswellbrook discovered a black Angus-cross calf shivering in a paddock during a stock check of newborn calves and expecting cows.

The calf has been named Ferdinand and the inmates are putting their animal husbrandry skills to the test to hand raise him at the Centre.

Manager of the Business Unit at St Heliers Steven Moffitt said the calf is teaching the inmates valuable life lessons.

“A lot of these guys haven’t had anything to do with animals in this capacity so we’ve come to the farm so its teaching them of the responsibility of the full gauntlet of requirements of herd management so all the weaning, the vaccinations, the breeding programs right through so its giving them the responsibility of actually looking after the animals and in turn that gives them some self worth, so they’re building their confidence to be able to return to the community,” said Steven.

“It teaches them life lessons, more than just looking after a calf, it lets them see that they have self worth and they can do these sorts of things and it’s really really great.”

“It gives them possibilities. So a lot of these guys have never thought of farming as a real possibility in the future and once they’ve experienced it, it opens up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for them.”

“They can go to a country area and actually fit in and know what they’re talking about.”

Steven said the inmates had to learn quickly just how much it takes to look after a baby.

“They made a nice little bed in the hay for him and then discovered all the requirements of looking after a poddy calf, so bottle feed three times a day and everything that goes along with that so it was a big introduction for the guys here and a big responsibility.”

“He’s going really well now, he’s loving life and it looks like he’ll be reintroduced back into the herd once he’s on solid feed and he’s grown up a little bit more so they get to play with him a little longer,” said Steven.

St Heliers Correctional Centre is a minimum-security facility for male inmates that provides work and training opportunities in vegetable farming and processing, engineering, housing construction, ground and building maintenance and farming.

The centre has a history as a working farm dating back to 1945.

Image credit: Corrective Services NSW