December 31, 2015

Fun Facts on Cows and Cattle

I have over fifty facts on cows and cattle to share with you, just for the fun of it.

There are a surprisingly large number of facts on cows and cattle that many people don't realize, and I believe that over 50 doesn't cut it. Of course I have other facts posted in the Facts & Meanings page (not nearly as complete as I want it, but I digress), some repeated here, but anything else I find or I consider of some importance I may post here in an ETA.

Otherwise, be prepared to have your mind blown.

  1. The term "cow" should not be used as a common name for an animal, even though it often is. The name "cow" refers to the females of a particular species of animals, including domestic bovines. By definition, in terms of domestic bovines, a cow is female mature bovine that has given birth to at least one or two calves.A cow is also the name for females of other mammals, such as elephants, bison, buffalo, caribou, whales, moose, rhinos, giraffes, and other animals. There is no such thing as a "female cow," but there is such a thing as a female bovine orfemale cattle-beast.
  2. "Male cows" don't exist either. Male bovines that are intact (not castrated) are called bulls. These animals are specifically used for breeding purposes. (Note: There is neither no such thing as a "male bull" nor a "female bull". Like as noted with cows above, the term "bull" is in reference to the gender of an animal, not the common name like with a dog or a moose.The males of elephants, bison, buffalo, caribou, whales, moose, rhinos, giraffes and others are also known as bulls.
  3. Male bovines which are castrated are called steers.
  4. Young female bovines are called heifers if they are less than 2 years of age and have not yet given birth to a calf.
  5. calf is a general term for young cattle from birth to weaning.
  6. A cow's gestation period is ~285 days long.
  7. Cows give milk for their calves. Dairy cows give much more milk than beef cows.
  8. There are two main types of cows: dairy cows and beef cows.
  9. Most cows are found on farms or ranches. Except in India, of course, because a lot of cows and cattle are found in cities and towns but have to subsist on garbage dumps instead of their more natural diet of grass and forbs. 
  10. All cows eat some form of grass or other, whether it's fresh pasture, or stored in the form of hay or silage. They also eat forbs or broad-leafed plants, but not as often as goats do. 
  11. Cows are herbivores, meaning they are able to live and exist on plants only. 
  12. Cows come in a wide variety of colours besides black-and-white. Bulls also come in a variety of colors, and most are not all brown with horns. Many colours you will find include white, grey (smokey to mousey), yellow, tan, red, brown, orange, and black. You will never find cattle that are blue, green, pink, nor purple. 
  13. Cows come in a variety of sizes. The smallest breed (Miniature Cattle or Lowlines) in the world has mature cattle only up to 700 to 800 pounds. The largest cattle breed is the Chianina, with mature bulls weighing over 3,500 pounds. 
  14. There are over 900 breeds of cows in the world. 
  15. The only continent that doesn't have cattle is Antarctica. 
  16. There are two primary sub-species of domestic cattle. Bos primigenius taurus are European cattle like your average milk and beef cattle. Bos primigenius indicusare humped, loose-skinned, large-eared cattle that are found in hot, southern climates.Desi cows of India are all of the subspecies Bos primigenius indicus. A cow that is not of B. p. indicus only has sweat glands on its nose.
  17. A cow only has one udder, which is divided up into 4 quarters, with a teat for each quarter.
  18. Hair or fur, it doesn't matter, Cattle have both.
  19. A cow, and all ruminant animals, have a four-chambered stomach to efficiently digest roughage. The four chambers are named as follows: reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum. The rumen is the largest of all the stomachs, able to hold around 50 gal of digesta. The abomasum, the fourth stomach, is very similar to that of a human's stomach. The reticulum is called the "hardware" stomach because it collects foreign materials such as wire before the rest of the feed enters the rumen; the omasum acts like a sponge, extracting all water out of the digesta from the rumen before entering the abomasum.
  20. Not all cows and bulls have horns. Most traditionally horned breeds are being selected for being born with no horns (called polled); however a few breeds that are horned are still encouraged to be so, such as Texas LonghornScottish Highland,English Longhorn, Ankole-Watusi, Spanish Fighting Bulls, Corriente and Florida Crackers/Pineywoods, to name a few.
  21. Cows are used for much more than beef and milk. No part of the cow is wasted after slaughtered.
  22. The meat from cows or cattle is called "beef."
  23. The plural noun for one cow or one bovine is cattle. "Cattle" is only used when referring to a number of animals in general, without any regards to gender, age or breeding. It should never be used as a singular noun.
  24. Cow, as a more general term, refers to the same animal in other names such as beeves, bovines, critters, animals, cattle-beast, beast, cattle etc.
  25. A group of cattle is called a herd, drove, mob or drift.
  26. Cows can live, on average, up to 15 to 20 years of age.
  27. Cows can have up to 18 to 20 offspring in their lifetime, if they are long-standing, healthy, productive members of the herd.
  28. There are four types of beef breeds: British breeds, for those who originated in the U.K (Scotland, England, Ireland), the Continental breeds, for those who originated in parts of Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, etc.), Composites, for those who are comprised of more than one breed (BrangusSanta GertrudisBeefmasters, Senepols, etc.) and the Exotic breeds, for those who are more rarely used for beef, no matter where they are from (Highland cattle, Dexters, Texas Longhorn etc.). The exception for all of the above is the Brahman breed, which originated in America. The Brahman is considered the fourth type of beef breed because it is of a different species than the rest of the common beef cattle.
  29. The most common dairy cow used in the world is the Holstein. She can produce around 10,000 gallons of milk per year.
  30. Cows are found on all continents of the world except Antarctica.
  31. Cows can walk up stairs, but not down them. This is because their knees cannot bend properly when they try to go down each step.
  32. A dairy cow can give nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.
  33. A cow can drink 25 to 30 gallons of water a day. Most often the cows that drink the most water are dairy cows, or cows that are lactating.
  34. A cow has 206 bones.
  35. A cow doesn't bite grass, she wraps her tongue around it, and uses her bottom teeth to shear it off. She doesn't use her whole head to tear off a mouthful of grass like sheep and horses do; her jaw and tongue does most of the work.
  36. A cow that weighs 1000 pounds can produce an average of 12 tons of manure every year.
  37. A cow usually spends 6-7 hours in day eating cud and around 8 hours chewing it.
  38. Almost all cows chew at least 50 times per minute.
  39. An average cow has more than 40,000 jaw movements in a day.
  40. An average cow produces 30 pounds of urine and 65 pounds of feces daily.
  41. A cow can only give milk after she has had a calf.
  42. A cow stands up and lays down about 14 times a day.
  43. Cows are venerated in the Hindu religion of India.
  44. Cows have almost total 360-degree panoramic vision.
  45. Cows have an acute sense of smell and can smell something up to 6 miles away.
  46. Cows produce around 90 percent of the milk in the world.
  47. Dairy cows can produce up to 125 pounds of saliva a day.
  48. The average body temperature of a cow is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  49. A Holstein cow, named Robthom Suzet Paddy, holds the record for the greatest yield for a single lactation (365 days), at 59,298 pounds.
  50. A cow named "Cow No. 289" holds the record for the highest lifetime yield of milk for a single cow, at 465,224 pounds.
  51. The highest milk yield for a single day is 241 pounds, by a cow named Urbe Blanca.
  52. The oldest cow to date was Big Bertha, a Devon, which died just 3 months shy of her 49th birthday.
  53. As of census from 2015, there are over 960 million cows and cattle in the world. (source:
  54. The country with the most bovines in the entire world is India, with a population of 301 million head.
  55. Cattle usually eat around 2% of their body weight in dry matter (all water taken out). As-fed percentages range from 3% to 10% of their body weight depending on the moisture content and quality of the feed. 
  56. Cattle will drink 8 to 10% of their body weight of water. Dairy cows drink more water than beef cattle.
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