Meet “Tommy the Ox,” a 3,000-Pound Giant That Shakes the Earth

Musk Ox - Year of the Ox
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Written by Kellianne Matthews

Published: March 21, 2023

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Farm oxen are strong, hard-working animals that often pull heavy plows and carts — so, as you can imagine, any type of farm ox is going to be a sizeable animal. But if you think you’ve seen big bovines before, think again — Tommy the ox is so big he needs his own heavyweight category! 

Tommy the Ox

When he was just two days old, Tommy the ox came to live with Fred Balawender at the Winterpast Farm in Cheshire, Massachusetts. Originally, Tommy wasn’t anything out of the ordinary — just a sweet little purebred Brown Swiss baby. American Brown Swiss cattle are a medium-sized breed, although they do have large bodies for dairy cows. An adult cow typically weighs around 1,300 to 1,400 pounds, and an adult bull can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Tommy seemed to be on track to become your average-sized bull. However, once he hit that average size, Tommy just kept on growing!

Today, Tommy is 13 years old and measures 6 feet from the bottom of his hooves up to his shoulders. Then if you add in his large head and horns, you’re looking at an 8-foot-tall ox that weighs around 3,000 pounds! Of course, his weight is just an estimate. Tommy is so big these days that his owners can’t fit him in a trailer to weigh him anymore! This incredible ox seems to be a long-lost descendant of Paul Bunyan’s blue ox, Babe.

An ox of such gargantuan proportions is certainly a force to be reckoned with. With that much mass, Tommy towers at least a head taller than the rest of the herd and has quite an intimidating appearance. However, as his owner, Fred Balawender and his daughter Laurie Cuevas can attest, Tommy is nothing but a giant sweetheart. Sure, he’s big enough to tear apart the barn without breaking a sweat, but Balawender says that Tommy is just a “big baby” and a “good guy”. In fact, Tommy is considered a beloved member of the family on Winterpast farm. 

Living with a 3,000-Pound Giant

How does an American Brown Swiss ox get that big? Well, Balawender says there’s really no secret to his size — this sweet ox just kept on growing! In fact, Balawender has been working with cattle since he was 11 years old. Now in his late 70’s he says he has never seen a cow as big or as docile as Tommy is. 

There may not be any top-secret gamma radiation encoded into Tommy’s DNA, but his family does work hard to keep him healthy. Tommy’s all-time favorite treats are apples, and this big boy will eat as many as you’re willing to share with him. Not only is this gentle giant humungous, but Tommy is pretty smart when it comes to his apples, too. He spits out any apples with dirt on them, and he’s figured out how to harvest them from trees himself. When Tommy is out and about on the farm, he likes to ram into the apple trees and snatches up the apples that fall!

Tommy also eats a 5-gallon pail filled with grain and at least 1.5 bales of hay every day. He receives regular brushings, which are often given using a large shop broom so that Balander can reach his back. But this gentle giant is so sweet, he’s even allowed small children to brush his face!

Tommy is a Beloved Member of the Family

A while back Tommy got super sick and his family worried that it was the end for their beloved ox. Due to his massive size, they couldn’t transport Tommy to a veterinary hospital, so they treated him at home. Tommy had to have his stomach pumped, and then receive fluids and medication through a large tube. During his ordeal, Balawender stayed by his side while Tommy gently laid his giant head on the old man’s shoulder. 

Fortunately, Tommy survived his harrowing ordeal and recovered, thanks to the love and care his family gave him. Recently, Tommy once again had a medical problem, this time with one of his hooves. As you can imagine, trimming the hooves of such a large animal isn’t the easiest job in the world. Tommy is far too big to fit into a holding chute for the procedure! But, true to his nature, Tommy submitted to gently lying down while the hoof specialist worked his magic. Tommy wasn’t too pleased with the situation, but Balander stayed right there with him and spoke soothingly to the ox throughout the entire procedure. 

Today, Tommy enjoys a quiet life on the farm with his family, but he has also risen to fame beyond the farm. Cuevas began posting videos of the special bond between Tommy and her 78-year-old father on social media (@dairygoatmother). Many of the videos show Tommy as he follows Balawender around the farm like a loyal puppy dog while the man tells him stories. According to Cuevas, Tommy’s main job on the farm is to put a smile on her father’s face and keep him young — but now Tommy also shares that love through Cuevas’ videos, making viewers smile all around the world with his heart of gold.

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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