Calves “Sweating Blood”: Bavarian farmers beg protection from the Black Madonna of Altötting


At a “farmers’ pilgrimage” two weekends ago, the Schützeneders and 600 other farmers even prayed to the Black Madonna of Altötting to have mercy on their bleeding calves. The words “Holy Mary, help us in our hour of need,” resounded across the church square. In their invitation to the event, the organizers wrote: “Because there is apparently no help to be expected from any worldly source, we intend, in making this pilgrimage, to beg for protection and help from the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Bavaria.”

A frightening report from De Spiegel Online:

Photo: De Spiegel
Photo: De Spiegel

A mysterious illness is causing calves to bleed to death on German farms. Veterinarians are stumped over what is causing the deaths: vaccines, genetically modified feed or perhaps even the first mother’s milk?

What can a cattle farmer do when he sees blood running from his calves like water, when they become lethargic and febrile and, by the next morning, are lying dead on the floor, their coats covered in blood?

“Our calves from last summer looked like they had been beaten,” says farmer Robert Meyboom, who is still shocked and perplexed today. “The animals’ bodies were covered with drops of blood, and their eyes were bloodshot.”

The veterinarian tried everything, he says, including administering vitamins and blood-clotting agents. But nothing worked, and “within two or three days, they were all dead.”

Meyboom, a farmer from Wesel in the Lower Rhine region of western Germany, has lost seven animals since the first calf bled to death in his barn in October 2007. The last calf died an agonizing death only a few weeks ago. Farmers refer to the victims as “blood sweaters,” alluding to the way blood seems to seep from the pores in some of the calves.

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