Interesting Facts about Cows

For some reason, people aren’t too obsessed with bovine species. To us, cows are just a piece of livestock that provides us with milk. But the truth is, they are created with various cool abilities, which we can’t deny. Here are some cow facts that you may find to be quite amazing!

1. Cows Have a Long Life Expectancy Naturally but Do Not Last Long In the Dairy Industry 

Cows Have a Long Life Expectancy Naturally but Do Not Last Long In the Dairy Industry 

The life cycle of a cow is relatively long compared to other farm animals. The natural lifespan of a cow ranges from 15 to about 20 years. However, cows are not allowed to live more than five years in the industry. After five years of serving as dairy cows, they are transported to the slaughterhouses, as their milk production levels start to go down. [1]

2. Cows Can Eat Feed like Hay and Grass Because Of Their Ruminant Stomachs 

Cows Can Eat Feed like Hay and Grass Because Of Their Ruminant Stomachs 

Mother Nature made cows with ruminant bellies. Cows’ feed varies from hay to various forms of leafy greens and grass. To understand how cows digest food and eat things like other organisms cannot, it is essential to know what a ruminant stomach is. 

A ruminant stomach has four crucial parts: the rumen, omasum, reticulum, and abomasum. Each part has one particular function to perform, such as making room for the chewed plant material, absorbing the essential nutrients and vitamins, aiding the process of protein breakdown, initiating the digestion process, and finally, cutting down the material into small pieces. [2]

The microbes present in rumen help ferment the feed and produce fatty acids. It is the primary source of energy for the cows.

3. Cows Also Use Facial Nonverbal Cues to Communicate 

Cows Also Use Facial Nonverbal Cues to Communicate 

Cows are amongst the cutest farm animals. They are pretty friendly and calm. You can mostly find them ‘mooing’ in the fields or farms. However, living so close to humans, cows might have learned the art of using their body language, facial expressions, tail wagging, and head positioning to communicate. 

4. Cows are constantly on the Move – Even When Grazing 

Cows are constantly on the Move – Even When Grazing 

An interesting fact about cows is how they exhibit peculiar grazing behavior. Grazing is how the cattle consume food. Grazing is essential for cows as they can eat until they are full. Also, the cows must graze while covering a large farm area (up to 13 kilometers) per day as they do not have much choice when eating the grass or plants. [3]

Their wide mouths do not allow them to target a small bite without several other unwanted components tagging along. Thus, covering such long distances while eating is essential for the cows’ health. 

5. Cows are Easily Startled and Fearful 

Cows are Easily Startled and Fearful 

Fear is a learned response to a perceived or real threat. Cows have always been highly fearful and easily startled as they have evolved as prey animals. It is also why cows have an inherent fear of novelty, sudden movements, new smells, noises, or large animals. [4]

Even the small family-owned farms have more than one dairy cow as their innate fear is doubled or tripled when cows are alone or isolated. With consistent gentle handling and safe environments, cows are the calmest animals.  

6. Cows Have an Excellent Sense of Smell 

Cows Have an Excellent Sense of Smell 

Cows can smell their surrounding better than any other animal. They possess an acute sense of smell for up to six miles helping them detect any danger around them. 

7. Cows Also Carry Their Babies inside Their Wombs for Nine Months 

Cows Also Carry Their Babies inside Their Wombs for Nine Months 

Like humans, cows remain pregnant for about nine months before giving birth to their babies. Baby cows are called calves, and, on average, a calf weighs about 45 pounds at the time of birth. Naturally, the calves can stand on their own and already know how to walk right after birth. [5]

8. Cows Can Hear Better Than Humans 

Cows Can Hear Better Than Humans 

Cows have better hearing abilities than humans in deep and high-frequency ranges. It might be because cows live in wide-open spaces, such as farms and fields. Their hearing is thus developed to help them survive without difficulty. [6]

9. Cows Can Also Give Birth to Twins

Cows Can Also Give Birth to Twins

It is somewhat surprising how cow’s pregnancy is similar to humans. Usually, cows give birth to one calf after a pregnancy. However, like humans, they also have about a 5% chance of giving birth to twins. It is a risky situation for the cow and the calves. [7]

10. Cows Thrive the Most in Small Herds 

Cows Thrive the Most in Small Herds 

Usually, the general practice in dairy farms is to split up the cowherds and put them into various groups. A 2020 study by Chilean and US researchers reveals that cows are social animals that thrive when placed in small herds rather than kept isolated and alone. [8]

Cows’ health and wellness are closely linked to the amount of bonding with other animals. The main show of affection by cows is licking, which showcases their happiness for being in a large group.

11. A Cow’s Vision is Limited to a Few Colors 

A Cow's Vision is Limited to a Few Colors 

Cows are red or green colorblind – implying that they perceive all the shades of red and green as gray or black. However, most cows can see very few variations of yellow and blue as their eyes do not have a broad range of receptors like the human eyes. [9]

12. Cows Drink a Lot of Water Every Day 

Cows Drink a Lot of Water Every Day 

Another interesting fact about cows is the enormous quantities of water they consume every day. A general range of cows’ daily water intake is between 3 to 30 gallons. [10]

The best way to calculate the projected amount of water consumption by your cows is to add 1 gallon of water for every 100 pounds of the weight of your cow during winter. In summer, you have to increase this amount to 2 gallons per 100 pounds of the weight of your cow. 

13. Cows Do Not Need Much Sleep 

Cows Do Not Need Much Sleep 

We mostly see cows grazing around the fields or lying down. Even when the cows are seen lying down for 10 to 12 hours daily, they do not sleep for long hours. Cows do not need long hours of sleep, requiring only 30 minutes of deep sleep every day. This deep sleep duration is scattered into 6-10 short sleep periods throughout the day. [11]

14. The USA is Among the Top Beef Producers in the World 

The USA is Among the Top Beef Producers in the World 

Until recently, the statistics by USDA showed that the USA was the top beef producing nation worldwide before Brazil replaced it. As per the first quarter of 2021, the USA was producing approximately 12.6 million metric tons of beef. [12]

All the 50 states of the USA contribute to this and make their country the leading beef producer and exporter worldwide. 

15. Cow’s Tongue is a National Delicacy in Some Countries 

Cow’s Tongue is a National Delicacy in Some Countries 

Every part of the cow is used and enjoyed in various cuisines. Many countries, including Poland, Germany, France, and Belgium, enjoy the tongue of the cow as the main ingredient of their popular cuisines or delicacy. 

It is served in the United States in open-faced sandwiches. 

16. You Can Be Sent To Jail in India for Killing a Cow 

You Can Be Sent To Jail in India for Killing a Cow 

Hindu religion regards cows as holy creatures and condemns the killing or consumption of their meat. In a Hindu nation, the penalty for killing cows or distributing beef is jail. The cow is revered in India and is treated as one of their gods. [13]

17. Only a Few Indian States Allow Cow Slaughter and Consumption of Beef 

Only a Few Indian States Allow Cow Slaughter and Consumption of Beef 

Some Indian states have a complete ban on the slaughter of cows, such as Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Article 48 of the constitution of India outlines this law. [14]

However, some Indian states still allow cow slaughter under restrictions like Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Mizoram. 

18. Cows Move Their Jaws about 50 Times Every Minute 

Cows Move Their Jaws about 50 Times Every Minute 

An astonishing fact about dairy cows is that they spend about 8 hours (30,000 chews) of the day chewing their cud. They move their jaws as if they are eating something. However, it is when cows are secreting saliva to help rumen – a compartment of their stomach – in digesting the feed. [15]

19. All Cows Have Given Birth 

All Cows Have Given Birth 

Since the term ‘cow’ only refers to a female who has given birth, the statement that all cows have given birth stands true. On the other hand, a young female who has not given birth yet is called a ‘heifer.’ A ‘bull’ or ‘steer’ is the male, and the newborn baby is called the calf. 

20. Cows Do Not Have Upper Front Teeth 

Cows Do Not Have Upper Front Teeth 

Calves grow their permanent teeth around the age of two. The first to grow are the lower middle incisors, also called pincers. Around four years of age, they get their second set of adult teeth called intermediate incisors. 

However, cows grow a fleshy pad or mound called the dental pad instead of upper front teeth. It is to help cows and other ruminant animals, such as sheep and goats, to chew tough foods. When cows eat foods like grass and forbs, rubbing them against the dental pad helps in effective shedding. [16]

21. Cows Do Not Eat Meat 

Cows Do Not Eat Meat 

Cows are herbivores – meaning they can also eat grass, corn, grain, or other vegetarian feed provided by the farmers. It is illegal to feed cows meat as it goes against animal ethics and laws. [17]

Cows’ digestive system is made to digest vegetarian feed, so feeding them meat is equivalent to killing them. [18]

22. Dairy Cows Lie Down For About 10 To 12 Hours Every Day 

Dairy Cows Lie Down For About 10 To 12 Hours Every Day 

Dairy cows have an innate urge to lie down for about 10 to 12 hours per day. It is behavior that promotes their health and ensures their welfare. By lying down more often, cows can digest more effectively and produce more saliva than cows forced to stand for long hours. [19]

23. Cow Ear Tags Are For Their Identification 

Cow Ear Tags Are For Their Identification 

Farmers commonly use ear tags on their cattle for identification. These tags have small cards attached to them, which enlist important identifying information about the cows like their gender, weight, age, birth date, etc.  

Conclusion

Cows are some of the most valuable animals on Earth, and their milk has a lot of different uses. They are super simple to raise and maintain, and they provide for themselves by eating the grass that grows all around them!

References

  1. https://thehumaneleague.org/article/dairy-cows 
  2. https://extension.umn.edu/dairy-nutrition/ruminant-digestive-system 
  3. https://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/livestock/cattle-buffalo/grazing-and-feed-management
  4. https://www.publish.csiro.au/ebook/chapter/9781486301614_Chapter4
  5. https://billingsfarm.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BFAC_Calves-M.pdf
  6. https://www.four-paws.org/campaigns-topics/topics/farm-animals/10-facts-about-cattle
  7. https://www.moocall.com/how-many-calves-can-a-cow-have
  8. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00535/full?_ga=2.54420716.532420674.1647604248-1186225582.1647604248
  9. https://animals.mom.com/cattle-colorblind-1974.html
  10. https://muse.union.edu/mth-063-01-f18/2018/09/17/cow-water-consumption 
  11. https://hoards.com/article-19809-cows-need-their-beauty-sleep.html
  12. https://www.statista.com/chart/19127/biggest-producers-of-beef/
  13. https://cjp.org.in/cow-slaughter-prevention-laws-in-india
  14. https://scroll.in/article/998735/cow-protection-was-a-sensitive-subject-in-india-even-when-the-constitution-was-being-framed
  15. https://afs.ca.uky.edu/content/why-do-cattle-chew-their-cud
  16. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/92781/VCE400_010.pdf?sequence=1
  17. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/animal-feed-regulations
  18. https://faunafacts.com/cows/can-cows-eat-meat-vegetarian
  19. https://www.fawec.org/en/fact-sheets/31-cattle/196-lying-performance-dairy-cattle