Cow Facts

Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Modified: 27 Jan 2022

Cattle have contributed to the survival of both humans and other animals for thousands of years. For more than 10,000 years now, our ancestors utilized them for meat, milk, to make leather, and as draft animals. Today, they are still commonly raised as livestock for almost the same purposes. From an environmental standpoint, the cow plays an irreplaceable role in maintaining topsoil, supporting biodiversity, preserving wildlife habitat, lessening the spread of wildfires, and producing natural fertilizer. Thus, they really are the real cash cows. Read on to find out more about this awesome creature with these 50 cow facts.

  1. A cattle or cow is a large domesticated cloven-hooved herbivore.
  2. Cow is the term for females, while bull is for males.
  3. The term “cow” is generally used as singular for the collective cattle.
  4. The word “cattle” can only be used in plural.
  5. For undetermined gender, we use the word cow in singular form, such as, “there is a cow in the street.”
  1. Cattle are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae (a diverse group of 10 genera of medium to large-sized ungulates such as bison, water buffalo, and African buffalo).
  2. They became one of the most common livestock primarily for their meat and milk.
  3. Their hides or skin is perfect for producing good quality leather.
  4. They can be trained as riding animals, draft animals, or even working animals.
  5. People now use the cow’s dung (cow pats, cow pies, or cow manure) as biogas and organic fertilizer.
  6. They are the most common species of the genus Bos (wild and domestic cattle), and are classified collectively as Bos taurus.
  7. Cattle were originally identified as three separate species. Bos taurus, Bos indicus, and the extinct Bos primigenius.
  8. Castration is a common management system in the cattle industry. It reduces the aggression of the bulls, which enhances farm safety for handlers and other animals.
  9. In the United States, “steer” is a term for the castrated male.
  10. “Heifer” is the term for a young female cow that has not borne a calf.
  1. In some places such as India, a cow has important religious significance.
  2. Small cow breeds, such as the Miniature Zebu, are also kept as pets.
  3. “Beef cattle” is the term for the animals that’s for human consumption.
  4. They are large quadrupedal ungulate mammals with cloven hooves.
  5. Based on the estimation of  The Food and Agriculture Organization, there are approximately 1.5 billion cattle in the world.
Table of Contents

A cow has four distinct compartments in its stomach.

Food that cows eat passes through four different sections. These four chambers in the cow’s stomach are called rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The ‘rumen’ is the first part that breaks up the cow’s food such as grass. Then, it proceeds to ‘reticulum’ where its food blends with saliva and creates a cud that goes back to the cow’s mouth through burping. The cow will then chew it again to break it into much smaller pieces. Afterward, it goes to ‘omasum’, where all the liquid is absorbed from the food. Finally, it ends up in ‘abomasum’ where it will be digested.

cow stomach, ruminant stomach
Image from Adobe Stock

For Hindus, the cow is a sacred symbol of life.

For our religious cow facts, Hindus do not eat meat, cows especially, and they believe it is a sacred animal, therefore, even meat-eating Hindus refrain from eating beef. According to their beliefs, cows represent divine and natural beneficence, thus, they should be protected and loved. In general, Hindus consider the cow to be a sacred symbol of life.

There are some states in India that allow cow slaughter.

Because roughly 80% of the population in India is Hindu, most of its citizens don’t eat beef. However, you can eat beef in some parts of the country— Indian states such as Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Kerala, Meghalaya, Tripura, and West Bengal are places where there are no restrictions on cow slaughter.

Over 50% of the cattle in the world are found in Brazil and India.

India, Brazil, China, and the United States are home to over 700 million cattle. As of 2021, India has over 300 million, Brazil has 250 million, China has 95 million, the United States has 93 million, and lastly followed by the European Union with 85 million.

Australia is the 2nd largest beef exporter after Brazil.

Australia, also known for its cattle industry of around 28 million, only ranks number 7 in the world with the most cattle. But interestingly, the country exports approximately 60% of its cattle, making it the world’s 2nd largest beef exporter after Brazil, which is also due to its relatively small population with only less than 26 million Australians as of 2021. In other words, there are more cattle than Aussies in the country.

Australia cattle, animals, cows, cow facts
Photo source: Pixabay

Cattle were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago.

Cattle were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago from the aurochs (a species of large wild cattle that inhabited Asia, Europe, and North Africa). Unfortunately, the wild aurochs became extinct during the 1600s due to overhunting and loss of habitat as well as the advancement of agriculture and domestic herds.

Their weight and size highly depend on the breed.

The weight and size of a cow highly vary from its breed. Mature bulls can weigh around 450 to 1,800 kg (1,000–4,000 lbs) while cows weigh from 360 to 1,100 kg (800–2,400 lbs).

Angus cattle is one of the most popular breeds in the world.

Angus cattle, also known as Aberdeen Angus, is the most popular breed in the United States and in the whole world, possibly. This breed came from northeastern Scotland and first brought to the United States in the early 1870s. Bulls usually weigh around 850 kg (1870 lbs) while cows are about 550 kg (1210 lbs). Their skin color is black with its coat in either black or red.

An adult wagyu is almost as expensive as a brand new car.

Wagyu beef from Japan is amongst the most prized beef on earth. High-grade wagyu can cost more than $200 per pound. Meanwhile, the olive wagyu (the rarest stake in the world) can cost anywhere from $120 to over $300 for a single steak. Meanwhile, an adult cow can sell for as much as $30,000. Talk about tasty and expensive cow facts.

wagyu steak, Kobe beef, beef, cattle, cow facts
Photo source: Pixabay

The world’s most productive dairy animal is the Holstein Friesian.

Holstein Friesians (known as ‘Holsteins’ in North America, and ‘Friesians’ in the UK and Ireland) are a breed of dairy cattle originating from the Dutch provinces of North Holland and Friesland, and Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germany. This breed is popular because it earned the title of “the world’s most productive dairy animal” and is now a widespread cattle breed in the world, present in more than 100 countries.

Holstein Friesians’ dairy production is twice as much compared to a regular milking cow.

Holstein Friesians can produce 7,655 liters of milk per year throughout 3.2 lactations, with pedigree animals averaging 8,125 liters a year, over an average of 3.43 lactations. In short, its lifetime production is around 26,000 liters. If we compare it to the average healthy milking cow, they can produce about 12,000 liters over the whole lactation.

The tallest cow stood over 6 ft tall.

“Blossom” (a Holstein breed), who passed away in 2015 at the age of 13, is still recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest cow ever, at 6 ft 2.8 in. The cow’s owner, Pat Hanson reported that Blossom died on May 26 on her farm near Orangeville, Illinois, United States.

The world’s oldest cow lived for 48 years.

On average, the height of a cow is 4 ft and 10 in tall (more or less) at the shoulder, and weighs with a lifespan of 18 to 22 years. “Big Bertha” is the world’s oldest cow that lived for 48 years ( March 17, 1945 – 31 December 31, 1993). Because of Big Bertha’s World Record-breaking status, she became like a local celebrity and her appearances at cattle fairs helped raise over $70,000 which was donated for cancer research and other charities.

The Chianina is the heaviest, tallest, and one of the oldest cattle breeds.

The Chianina is an Italian breed of cattle. This breed is the heaviest, tallest, and one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. Mature male and female Chianina can reach more than 5 ft and 5 in tall and weigh from 1,200 kg to over 1,500 kg.

Chianina, Italian cows, white cows, animal, cow facts
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

They have 32 teeth.

Initially, a young cow will first develop 20 temporary teeth (known also as deciduous, milk, or baby teeth), those temporary teeth later fall out and will be exchanged with 32 permanent or adult teeth as they mature. Cattle have three types of teeth: incisors, premolars, and molars.

Chick-fil-A started the Cow Appreciation Day.

Starting in the year 2005, a group of people began to celebrated ‘Cow Appreciation Day’ every second Tuesday of July. Chick-fil-A (one of the largest American fast food restaurant chains) created the event in commemoration of Heff R. Jones and his humorous quote “EAT MOR CHIKIN” billboard campaign in 1995. Annually, Cow Appreciation Day brings joy to its customers along with entertaining promotions for the restaurant.

There are still a few wild cow survivors.

Some people have been wondering, are there still wild cows out there? The short answer is, yes, there is! Although many of the surviving wild species do not look like the cow we all know from the farms and pictures (because the wild ancestor of most domestic cattle, the aurochs, Bos primigenius, has been extinct since the 17th century), you can still visit and see these rare wild cows in certain zoos like in San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The wild cattle species here eat low-starch, high-fiber pellets and Bermuda and Sudan grass hay.

New Zealand and Germany are among the leaders in the global export of milk.

The most popular and widely consumed dairy products are milk, cheese, yogurt, fermented milk, whey, cream, butter, casein, and custard. In 2020, New Zealand became the number 1 exporter of milk worldwide with an export value of 6.5 billion U.S. dollars, followed by Germany with over 2.5 billion dollars milk export value in that same year.

New Zealand milk, dairy product, milk
Photo source: Flickr

Rates of dairy consumption across the globe go as high as 150 kg per capita annually.

Rates of dairy consumption across the globe are not equal. High-consumption countries such as North America, most European countries, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Costa Rica, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan consume more than 150 kg per capita per year. The medium-consumption countries like Mexico, Japan, India, Iran, Kenya, Mongolia, New Zealand, North and Southern Africa, most of the Middle East, and most of Latin America and the Caribbean consume around 30 to 150 kg per capita per year. Meanwhile, low-consumption countries (Senegal, Central Africa, and East and Southeast Asia) consume under 30 kg of dairy per capita annually.

It’s not uncommon to see people who avoid dairy products.

Some people and groups avoid dairy products for both health and non-health-related reasons. Some denominations/religions discourage or do not allow the consumption of dairy products. For instance, some scholars of Jainism (an ancient Indian religion) teach not to consume any dairy products because they believe that dairy products are associated with violence against cows. Moreover, Orthodox Judaism requires that both meat and dairy products should not be served at the same meal nor served or cooked in the same utensils, or stored together, based on Deuteronomy 14:21, “You shall not [even] boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

Somebody with lactose intolerance is unable to fully digest the sugar or lactose in milk.

Drinking a lot of milk can cause digestive problems such as cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. If the human body is not able to break down lactose very well, it will travel through the digestive system and will be broken down by gut bacteria. Lactose intolerance can also cause gassiness and other digestive issues can happen, so drink moderately or consult your doctor if your body is not reacting very well. Moreover, some studies also claim that drinking milk may cause cancer, however, there is no strong or solid evidence linking dairy products to any other types of cancer just yet, but it’s an ongoing debate.

Mad cow disease is a lethal disease that slowly damages the brain and spinal cord of cattle.

Mad cow disease, also known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), is a lethal disease that slowly damages the brain and spinal cord of cattle. A cow can get this disease by eating contaminated feed with parts that came from another cow that was ill. Although there is no evidence that people can get mad cow disease, in some rare cases, it can affect humans. Currently, there is no cure and people usually die within 13 months of showing symptoms.

The cow’s tongue is a national cuisine for some countries.

Beef tongue is a cut of beef made of a cow’s tongue, it can either be roasted, boiled, pickled, or braised in sauce. Many national cuisines serve this dish including Mexico (for taco fillings) and the United States (for open-faced sandwiches). In France and Belgium, it comes along with Madeira sauce, while in Germany, they make a white roux with vinegar and capers, or horseradish cream, which is also popular in Polish cuisine.

The Highland cow is gentle and friendly.

The Highland cow is a Scottish breed of rustic cattle. This breed came from the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland. They have long horns and a long shaggy coat (bulls can weigh up to 800 kg or 1,800 lbs and cows up to 500 kg or 1,100 lbs). The Highland cow is generally gentle by nature and friendly, although mothers with calves can be very protective of their young.

Highland cow, cattle, animal
Photo source: Pixabay

Cow cuddling is now a therapy.

According to some reports, cow cuddling or hugging a cow can help ‘promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans.’ In fact, Americans are spending $75 an hour to hug a cow. These animals love to be caressed, stroked, scratched behind the ears, and they welcome interactions with any people.

They are fearful.

Since cattle have evolved as prey animals, they are naturally reactive or fearful in certain situations, including fear of unfamiliar objects, situations, scents, unexpected movements, and noises. This fearfulness increased, even more, when they are solitary or isolated.

Their gestation period ranges from 279 to 287 days.

Their gestation period ranges from 279 to 287 days (about 9 months and 10 days). For most breeds, 283 days are the most common. When a calf is born, it typically weighs around 45 pounds and can immediately stand and walk within an hour or two. Generally, cows can be first bred at about 21 months of age and they can continue to deliver until they are about 7 or 8 years of age.

There is a 5% chance that cows can have twins.

Compared to other animal species that give birth to multiple offspring each pregnancy, most cows give birth to one calf for each pregnancy. Hence, they don’t usually give birth to more than one calf, although twins may come occasionally. In 5% of these cases, such twin pregnancies may create serious risks for both the mother and her calves.

calves, twins, baby cattle
Photo source: Pixabay

Quadruplets are possible with about 1 in every 11 to 15 million.

Triplets are rare for the cows, but in Northeast Texas, a cow has given birth to super rare quadruplets. “Moo, Eeny, Meeny, and Miny” are the 4 calves, however, since the mother cow is unable to support all four calves, the owner asked for help from neighbors and friends so “Moo has stayed with her mother, while Eeny, Meeny, and Miny are with two different caretakers.”

The cow in Minecraft can help you create your armor.

In Minecraft (the sandbox video game), the cow provides leather where players make them into armor and is essential for crafting books. It can also be milked (by right-clicking on them whilst holding a bucket) while other animals such as sheep will provide wool, which is used to make beds. Some of the most common pets/animals in Minecraft are dogs. A dog, cats, slimes, and horses.

Minecraft, game, animated cows
Photo source: Flickr