Have you ever seen this video of a mule defending his human?

I do occasionally get asked if I have worked with mules. I have not…not that I have anything against them. I have heard that they are smart…but this video really makes that evident!

This is one of those videos that shows a true partnership between an animal and human.

It would be an understatement to say that this guy knows his job!



  1. Duke on April 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    As a kid I worked on a farm with a guy who had them to pull a stone boat at a fair. They will as a team crawl the last couple of feet on their knees. They are always fast to kick and bite.

  2. Wess on April 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Wonderful work, marvelous mule, nice cattle, absolutely gorgeous ranch. Thanks Stacy for posting.

  3. Christina Schumacher on April 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    thats awesome!! I wonder if it started as just a natural instinct in the mule, or if it was trained to do it

    • Stacy on April 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

      I wonder the same thing.

    • Bobbie Jo Dawson on February 28, 2015 at 1:57 am

      Its an instinct..at least in every mule I have ever owned or trained..they LOVE LOVE to steal babies..foals, fawns, calves..whatever they can get..(the jennys or mollys..Ive never seen a male do it) We had one that actually killed does(deer) to steal their fawns..we also had to find a stallion to cover her with every single spring bc if she was not covered she went crazy..Never did her any good, she was still sterile but there was no convincing her otherwise. We tried one year to just keep her away from everyone else and she dang near tore the barn down

  4. rod2258 on April 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    The guy is just working the calf. He gave it a vaccination, an ear tag, and drops in the ear for mits and ticks. Then the calf went back to mama no worse for the ware.
    I would give most anything for that mule.

  5. Teresa on April 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    He’s castorating the calf

  6. Sandy Kimpfbeck on April 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    The mule definitely knows it’s job , but it was pretty heartwrenching to see the calf get accidentally trampled by it’s own mother when the mule was chasing her .

  7. Maqui on April 6, 2014 at 11:28 am

    OK…the huy eplains that the calves are just born and need to be doctor on there cord in order to flies dont get maggots. Now, Nelore cows, are mean!!! they will run you over and over. Great video!!

  8. mulegirl007 on April 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I think I can offer some insight into what’s going on here for those who are confused, stormidnight, Patricia A. Woodruff & Flo. There appears to be a team of 3 people mounted checking this herd of cows. The calves that they rope need attention of some sort – possibilities include inoculation, identification or antibiotics (you can see what appears to be a syringe in the guys hand at one point when he’s putting things into his saddle bag). I don’t know if you guys have much experience with cattle but there isn’t much more dangerous than a mama cow who has recently given birth and is amped up on hormones and motherhood thinking you are hurting her precious bundle. It is survival -based maternal instinct, I get it – I get the same way with my kids, though a little less rampage-y 😉 The mule’s job is to stay between the calf and the cow, blocking the cow, so the guy can (as safely and quickly as possible) do what needs to be done with the calf and get it back to it’s mother. In the above video, multiple calves are handled, but the cows are all the same color and breed so I can see how it seems as though they are just dealing with one calf for the entire thing.

  9. Kip on April 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

    He was ear tagging the calf

  10. Andie Jackson on April 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I am amazed that the cow never gives up trying to take her baby back. She’s as good a mama as the mule is a protector.

  11. Jadwal pertandingan timnas on April 6, 2014 at 9:27 am

    NO words for this amazing mule! My grandfather told me of their mule in WWI; she had her own gas mask, and alerted them when they needed to put their gas masks on….

  12. Angel Shaw on April 6, 2014 at 9:19 am

    This is an amazing mule who knows his job above the average cutting/ working cowhorse…
    FYI to non ranch folk…
    We doctor the range cattle on site on a continual basis its the less stressful means to the whole herd when we do herd maintenance… quietly on on one. Especially when the main homestead is miles away…
    Calves like all babies have sensitive digestive systems, to strengthen their immune system the need colostrum milk and be on grass, however because cattle eat off the ground they are subjected to a lot of microbes which attack the auto immune system and it can develope into scours (diarrhea). If left untreated the calf become dehydrated and weak and will eventually die. the treatment is an oral bulbous you have to put down their throat. Also when a calf realizes it isnt going to escape because they are only babies they quit fighting and pout they lay down and wont move especially if they are already ill.
    I respect that not everyone was raised on a farm but please do not always jump to conclusions. We raise animals, not torture them.

  13. Heidi A on April 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I’m not certain but it looks like the guy possibly tranqued the baby to brand Cattle are often free range and not fenced so branding is necessary

    • Diogo Castiço on April 6, 2014 at 9:19 am

      beginning of the video guys says: “I want to show a mule that helps us in the cure of the calfs belly button” Trust me, I´m portuguese 🙂

  14. Diogo Castiço on April 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

    beginning of the video guys says: “I want to show a mule that helps us in the cure of the calfs belly button” Trust me, I´m portuguese 🙂

  15. gpeppers on April 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Awesome video, thanks for sharing. When you have that many cows on a lot of land it’s impossible to round them all up just to doctor one calf. It’s dangerous to doctor the calf because the momma cow will kill what ever is messing with her baby. Looked like the cowboy was tagging the ear and giving a few shots. A lot better than roping the neck and back legs and dragging to the fire and branding, in my opinion. This mule could never be replaced.

  16. gpeppers on April 6, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Reblogged this on GPeppers and commented:
    This mule earns its keep and looks happy doing it!

  17. Mary Latre on April 6, 2014 at 8:04 am

    There a couple comments discussing that stress for the mother cow. It a couple parts or the movie he has the calf on the ground and is most likely doctoring ie vaccinating, casterating, cleaning the navel cord etc. working with protective cows especially range and roaming cattle like these is dangerous. This mule is providing ample security for his owner. He has most likely been trained some and the rest is protective behavior. Truly the cow will only have to worry about her calf for ashore amount of time. And at the end of that time her calf will be healthier and more capable of fighting dieases.

  18. Flo on April 6, 2014 at 8:02 am

    A little clarity on what was going on with the calf would have been nice. I was waiting to see it jump up and run back to Mama but last seen, the guy was dragging it’s limp body. Was it ok? Did it get reunited with the mother? Was it being doctored or used to train the mule (although the mule looked pretty well trained)? Does anyone speak Portuguese who can translate?

    • Tiago Leao on April 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Flo. I am farmer here in Brazil. This kind of situation happens everyday in my farm. Whenever a cow giver birth to a calf, it´s necessary for a cowboy to go there and spread a liquid in the calf´s bellybuttom to avoid flies. Flies can cause infeccion on it if it´s not properly clean.

    • Tryna M Merriman on April 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      confused as well ,

  19. mustangsb on April 6, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Yea…let’s distress a calf to see how amazing a mule is. Nothing to be proud of here.

  20. Evelyn Cuadrado on April 6, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Not cool at all. Poor mom wants her baby back. That is so sad.

  21. Kirsty on April 6, 2014 at 2:02 am

    Well that’s amazing! Whom ever the mules protecting there doing a great a job of it 🙂

  22. Kate on April 6, 2014 at 1:51 am

    This bothered me. I felt bad for the mother who was doing what came naturally, protect her baby. If it was an exercise to show how the mule worked, I didn’t honestly appreciate it. If the calf was injured, well then… that is a different story and i can appreciate it. Which was it?

  23. Jamie on April 6, 2014 at 1:33 am

    he is ear tagging and looks like castrating the calf

  24. Bluwind on April 6, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Amazing show of skill and intelligence on the mules part. The guy is with the first calf putting a tag in its ear, later he was using a castration gun it looks like and it also looked like he was trying to move it closer to his ‘work area’ calves will go dead weight on you if they don’t want to do something so you can see him trying to get the baby to get up and then later just carrying him. no real harm done but a great thing the mule is there otherwise that momma would a kicked that guy’s butt. Also to mention than some breeds of cattle are much more aggressive than the usual hereford, long horn, jersey, brahman, dexter and Holstein cattle common in the US.

  25. Teal on April 6, 2014 at 12:39 am

    The mule is obviously very good at it’s job but yes; what exactly is the guy doing with the calf? It is evident the mother cow is just doing what is expected of her..

  26. Dana on April 5, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    it’s a partnership! It’s cool to see such a work of a partner who knows just when, how and where the next move needs to be. It’s a joy to watch! And, it is truly a partnership…

  27. Danielle on April 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    This calf needed doctoring; a chore not easy to do with a protective cow trying to take your head off. The rancher is just trying to care for the calf. The mule did a fantastic job allowing the calf to try to walk on its own while keeping momma from over-taking either of them. Many a rancher would love to own such a devoted and hard working animal.

  28. Patricia A. Woodruff on April 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    The mother wants her calf back, what is the guy doing to her baby?

    • kenny on April 6, 2014 at 12:08 am

      He is ear tagging the first calf. They have to watch the calf until they quit messing with the ear so they do not tear out he tag and make the ear bleed badly. The second calf was getting some shots.

    • JodiBraford on April 6, 2014 at 4:09 am

      Doing his job! Doctoring, worming, vaccinating, whatever he needs to do to keep his herd healthy without the stress on the animals of a big round up, what a smart man & awesome mule!

  29. Karin on April 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    The mule is helping the human keeping away the cow while he handles (apparently vaccinates or so) the calf. Mules have a very strong protecting instinct and maternal instinct. They easily bond with one human and then he has a friend for life.

  30. K Caswell on April 5, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    was he treating the calf for something as found the video distressing as the poor baby was being flipped and dragged all over the place and mama cow just wanted her baby back

  31. Lisa smith on April 5, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Distressing. Hard to watch the treatment oft ge calf and the torment to the mother.

  32. Tracy on April 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Amazing! The countryside is beautiful…..

  33. qbkleenjj on April 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Awesome Mule, But it is not protecting the human it is the calf that the mule is most interested in.

  34. Breno on April 5, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    The guy is healing the calf, because days after the calf born they need do that to the calf don’t have infection. The video was recording in Brazil. In Brazil we use a lot mule to help us on the work.

  35. Marri on April 5, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Hello all…I think what the guy is doing is putting tags on the new babies ear…so the donkey is keeping the mom away so he can do it…

  36. Di on April 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    it looks like he is banding the calves before letting them go

  37. chris on April 5, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    This man is an idiot. I’ve grown up around livestock and he put the calf, mother, and mule at risk because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. If you leave the mule untied, you don’t leave the reins on. It could get tangled and break a leg. Only takes a couple of hours to make even a make-shift catch pin to separate the calf and mother for inoculations, castration, whatever he was doing. Working in an open field was just stupid and put all the animals at risk, not to mention the ****** that was doing it. The mule was impressive, protecting him. That’s what animals do for the people that feed them!

  38. johanna on April 5, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    wow–really amazing! i had no idea!

  39. Kathy on April 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I don’t like it one bit! He’s abusing that poor calf and it’s momma has to watch. Cruel!

    • TheAsbryder on April 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      Wow, honey, no. He’s giving the calf immunizations, treating the navel for infection, checking health, and tagging the ear. This takes time, and he has to be safe, hence the mule keeping the cow away. Mules tend to instinctively do this with calves, so the use of a mule is a smart one on the part of the man. Obviously, the cow is not overly hurt, as she keeps coming back and jogging around. If you watch the mule, you’ll see it’s aiming high kicks, and biting fleshy parts. None of these will cause any serious or lasting damage to the cow, but works as an excellent deterrent. How would you rather this done? No mule, and watch the man be trampled by the cow? Separate the calves from the cows and watch the cows batter themselves against the fences until they’re bloody, trying to get to their offspring? Or perhaps you’d rather he not do it at all and let the calf die from a treatable or preventable disease? Please, get some information and do some research on what’s going on before you cry cruelty or abuse. Thank you.

  40. Deborah bullock on April 5, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    I agree the cow is defending her calf, we got the message about the mule but was wondering when they were going to let the poor thing go back to the mama enough is enough we get it

  41. Alli Farkas on April 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I don’t speak Portuguese, but I can read it a little bit because I speak Spanish. The title of the film is “working mule”. I’m guessing that this is a training session of some sort, so the mules learns that guy can go out and do whatever he has to do with the calf, whether treating it or moving it or carrying it, and the mule’s job is to keep mama away from both of them till he’s finished.

  42. stormidnight on April 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    The cow is trying to defend her calf who was struggling. Distressing to watch. Don’t know what exactly was going on, but would have like more explanation.

    • Penelope L. Penderhausen on April 5, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      He was doctoring newborns and notching ears. When animals from the same village are all run together, this keeps people honest. The calf was struggling against a rope, it wasn’t hurt.

    • Han on April 5, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      he has to tag the ear of the new caff and make sure its all good then it goes back to the mother

    • Bobbie on April 6, 2014 at 1:33 am

      I think the man was tagging the calf’s ear for identification.

    • JodiBraford on April 6, 2014 at 4:07 am

      OFCOL! looks to me like rather than have a huge round up, they want to be able to doctor, worm & vaccinate out in the pasture . . . COOL mule!

    • Diogo Castiço on April 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

      The guy is treating the calfs belly button and the mule is preventing the cows from reaching them – quite protective and an amazing working tool/partner! 🙂

    • steve mason on April 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

      I somewhat agree, it is obvious he was doing medical exam and maybe vaccinations etc to the calf, at least they could have shown the mother who never gave up on her baby, being reunited with her calf. Booo to the video person!

    • Reed on April 6, 2014 at 10:37 am

      From what I can understand with my splotchy portuguese is: “What I’ve got to show for you all today is how this mule protects the calf during -something something critical for the calf-”

      Nothing wrong going, farmers in Brazil are in it for the long haul just like they are anywhere else. Calfs are critical to continue the farm so he is more than likely immunizing or tagging or giving some sort of crucial care to the calf.

    • Edna on April 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Stormidnight, when calves are born they sometimes need vaccinations, ear tags, shots or other health related care. The momma cows are very protective over that calf and will kill a man if not held back. They don’t understand why the man is “attacking” their baby. The mule keeps the cow at bay, so the cowboy can administer the medication. Yes, the mule has to get rough sometimes, however, that is nothing compared to the harm that cow could cause if not held back. As soon as the man gets through with the calf he lets it go, and within minutes the cow/calf pair will be grazing peacefully in the pasture. There are no long term affects to either the cow or the calf.

    • nightwatcherspet on April 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      The farmer is treating the calves, and the mule is protecting him from the mothers making it possible for him to treat them.

    • Tryna M Merriman on April 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Me too!

  43. Melinda Russell on April 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    NO words for this amazing mule! My grandfather told me of their mule in WWI; she had her own gas mask, and alerted them when they needed to put their gas masks on.

  44. Glenda Ihnen on April 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Hi Stacey This is cool, I see how he started training this mule. I believe with a good cow horse that you have a good connection with your horse you could teach your horse to protect you, would be perfect for ranch hands doctoring cattle. What do you think. Glenda

  45. Cynthia McCollum on April 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Very interesting. Equally interesting was cattle that still have the instinct to defend their calves. Guess Brahmans haven’t had the brains bred out of them yet.

  46. Julie on April 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I couldn’t understand the story. I feel sorry for the mama cow though. Is he helping the calf?

  47. Steffi on April 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Wow wow wow! Never saw anything similar. That is true partnership. It is amazing and unbelievable how this guy instinctively(?) knows what to do. Great job!

  48. H. Collings on April 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I hate to disappoint anyone, but this seems to be a natural response of mules towards calves. On several occasions, I have had to catch and remove a mule from a pasture with cows and newborn calves as the mule wants to “capture” the calves & will not allow them back to their mothers to nurse. I had heard of this phenomena from old cowboys but did not believe it until I experienced it myself. So it is not the rider this mule is protecting, but the calf from it’s own momma.

    • Carolyn E Williams on April 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      This it TRUE; we had a dairy farm on the property where the Astrodome is built, many many years ago, before the Astrodome was built, and this is true about the mule! “Capturing the calf

      • katzarr on July 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm

        Just use a good horse, rope the calf, do what you need to do, and cut em lose.; the “mule” thing about thinking the mule is protecting the man is a bunch of “c”; the man is just interested in tapeing the vid! just saying, watch it,; this is NOT necessary to treat the calf for anything… <3

    • Jennifer on April 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Exactly what H. Collings said. Very embarrassing for Stacy Westfall to be posting this IMO.

      • Stacy on April 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        Jennifer- I am sorry you find it embarrassing. I was very honest about not having experience with mules in my post. I was interested in the video when I saw it…not because I agreed with everything I saw but because it seemed to be an interesting video to study. I have found the discussions around it to also be interesting. If it appeared I was giving my blessing to everything in the video then I do regret that as that was not my intention.

    • Bobbie Jo Dawson on February 28, 2015 at 1:46 am

      I know that this is forever late–but you are 110% correct..not just with calves, but every jenny or molly that I have ever worked with has done this to foals if given the chance too.. they want to steal every baby around.. We had one that was so bad, that she would kill does(deer) to try and steal their fawns..we had no idea why we kept finding deer dead in the pastures and one day a worker checking the gas wells saw her and caught her on video.

  49. Danielle on April 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    i don’t know what he’s doing to that calf, but regardless, he should take it to a safer location to do so! i don’t like that the mom is being kicked trying to get to her baby, and that the baby got trampled once or twice in that!

  50. Lesia Lowe on April 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Is he doctoring the calf? If so….Amazing protection…..

    • Tayo on April 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

      I grew up on a cattle ranch with well over 1500 head and i can tell you that we did this at least a dozen times a day out in the field to treat all sorts of sizes of cattle, tags get ripped out and we may have to replace those but usually its a simple needle or two to help an infection and they are on their way! much easier and less stressful than removing it from the field and hauling it away in a loud cattle trailer to be run through the chute.

    • Charla Paynter on August 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Stacy, thank you for sharing!
      Weird that so many were negative in their feedback. Stay strong, continue to share new experiences with us! By the way, I have 2 mares I’ve raised on my home setup that if encouraged would be easily taught to protect me, in fact I make SURE to not encourage their already natural desire to keep me safe. I e owned their Mom and Dad for YEARS and we are a family with the dogs cat chickens and goats. Thankfully these 2 mares protect my property from the heavy populations ofcoyotes, bobcat and javelina around us The 3 protective mares are 2 half Arab half Qtrs and another purebred, I imprinted on them at birth and care for them daily so it would be weirder to me if there was NOT an instinct to keep me/them safe

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