Interesting Facts about Cows

Interesting Facts about Cows

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Random and interesting facts about cows

At first glance, cows might seem to be simple animals, but they’re not! Cows are fascinating animals. For instance did you know that cows can smell something up to 6 miles away, or that cows can produce 125 lbs. of saliva in one day. Here’s a list of interesting facts:

  1. Cows are social animals, and they naturally form large herds. And like people, they will make friends and bond to some herd members, while avoiding others
  2. Cows are red-green colorblind. In a bullfight, its the waving of the cape that attracts the bull not the red color
  3. A cow’s heart beats between 60 and 70 beats per minute
  4. Cows can hear lower and higher frequencies better than humans.
  5. An average dairy cow weighs about 1,200 pounds.
  6. A cows normal body temperature is 101.5°F.
  7. The average cow chews at least 50 times per minute.
  8. The typical cow stands up and sits down about 14 times a day.
  9. An average cow has more than 40,000 jaw movements in a day.
  10. Cows actually do not bite grass; instead they curl their tongue around it.
  11. Cows have almost total 360-degree panoramic vision.
  12. Cows have a single stomach, but four different digestive compartments.
  13. Cows are pregnant for 9 months just like people
  14. A dairy cow can produce 125 lbs. of saliva a day
  15. Cows spend 8 hours per day eating, 8 hours chewing her cud (regurgitated, partially digested food), and 8 hours sleeping
  16. You can lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. Cows knees can’t bend properly to walk downstairs.
  17. Cows can’t vomit
  18. The average cow drinks 30 to 50 gallons of water each day
  19. The average cow produces 70 lbs. of milk. That’s 8 gallons per day!
  20. Cows only have teeth on the bottom
  21. Cows have a great sense of smell. They can smell something up to 6 miles away
  22. Dairy cows are economic job creating machines! 1 dairy cow creates 4 full time jobs in the local community
  23. A Holstein’s spots are like a fingerprint. No two cows have exactly the same pattern of black and white spots. They are all different
  24. The average cow will eat about 100 lbs. of feed per day

Let me Know!

Which facts did you find the most interesting or surprising? Let me know in the comments below

96 COMMENTS

  1. If cows cannot walk downstairs how do they get off the top deck of a truck. I heard cows are color blind so they do not know if you are wearing red. Bulls I mean.

    • Good catch George, I did some more research. Cows can see most colors, but they are red-green colorblind

  2. How intelligent and sensitive are cows? Do you think it bothers them to be in the mud or cold? Do they like humans? I’m 47 and live next to a farm in Westtown, NY….see my cow pals all the time. And I always think about these things when I go past “my” farm.

    • Hi Barbara,

      That’s awesome that you get to see cows all the time. I know many people don’t have that opportunity. That’s why I started this blog so people could see pictures of cows!

      To answer your questions, I think cows are pretty intelligent, and some like people. It really depends though. I think it’s like all animals; some are smarter than others and some like people more than others. Each one has a unique personality.

      I don’t think the cold or mud bothers them much. Cows actually prefer colder temperatures, and can withstand some pretty cold weather. If you think about it, they are wearing leather coats. They actually love mud. Whenever there is a wet spot in their pens, they will stand in it. I think they probably think it’s a good way to cool off. Muds not good though, so we try to keep them clean and dry.

        • They dont sweat like humans but they will sweat mostly through their noses. And another cool fact is if you drink cows milk in a sense you are drinking their sweat because milk is produced out of a modified sweat gland also known as a mammary gland

          • I don’t think that’s true because sweat glands are biologically different than mammary glands. Any biologists want to tackle this one?

  3. Haha, pretty amazing stuff. I’ve always loved cows. I’m getting my DVM soon and I’ve been thinking about specializing in livestock.

  4. I’m so amazed that cows can percieve the smell of something up to six (6) miles away….I mean I did’nt know that before now; its so amazing.

      • Most of the negative things you hear about animal agriculture come from people who have no idea what is actually going on. Some things might look bad but they are for the best interest of the animal. As a farmer our one goal is to raise happy healthy livestock. The happier the animal the faster they grow the more they will produce!

    • I have cows and what we do with our calfs is if the mother needs help that is the only time we will help them ( with birth ). Then when they are born if it is the winter we will rub them is straw and pop them in the shed ( mother and calf ). But if it is the summer or autum ( i think it is fall in america ) the mother will lick the placenta off of their calf and then the calf will try and stand up. But will probably fall over then they get the hang of it and get up and have a drink from the mothers milk.Then we tag them you might have seen them if you have seen cows that is the yellow thing on their ears ( and don’t worry it does not hurt them it is like getting their ears peirced. Then if they are male we will go to the mart with them and sell them. ( only when they are 7-8 months old ). But if they are female we will wheane them ( that mean put them in a feild away from there mothers) for the summer. Then in the winter we will take the mothers off of the hill ( where they stay in the summer) and the girls out of the feild and into our feild where they will stay for the rest of the year and that is basically what we do our ones people do it different ways but they don’t get hurt.

    • Well, they do chew grass, but they use their tongue to pull it when grazing. They don’t use their teeth

  5. I think it must be true about a cow’s sense of smell. I just did a massive dump with my window open and the cows next door ran to the other side of the field

  6. Hi Dairy Guy, I love cows too!
    Fact 1. says cows are social animals. Would you say they were ‘sentient’? Would you say they have feelings? Are they social in the same way as humans? Would you say they have human-like qualities?

    • We, as humans, tend to try to understand things comparing things to ourselves, but what if it is us that have cow-like qualities lol

      • In the mid-1800s, the early Jersey cows weighed about 600 pounds, maybe 700, and produced around 7 gallons of milk a day. By around 1975, through the magic of selective breeding and computerized feeding schedules, the Holstein-Friesian weighed in at 1,750 pounds and was putting out over 19 gallons a day!
        Does this dramatic transformation in size sound natural to you and how has the cow personally benefited, not its greedy human enslavers?

        • Now you’re making things up. You realize that Jersey cows and Holstein cows are different breeds right. Jerseys are about 1,000 lbs. and Holsteins are about 1,200 lbs. Cows do vary in size but those are the breed averages and have been even in the 1800s. 7 gallons is about 60 lbs of milk per day, close to todays average of 70 lbs… 19 gallons is 163 lbs. perhaps a possible achievement for the top producing cow in the world, but not average. Genetic differences are natural though within a specie…

  7. If fact Dairy Guy, I have a few question regarding your list of facts…
    Fact 8. says a typical cow stands up and sits down about 14 times a day. I thought that industrially farmed dairy cows can be stuck in cage like traps with their heads over a feeding trough? Is that right? Do those dairy cows get to sit down 14 times a day like yours?

    • that is incorrect, the ones you mention are locked into place for aprox an hour while’st eating, so their feed intake is rationed and health checks are performed. fed lot cows lay down more because they dont have to walk around for their feed. every km they walk they loose one liter of milk and the same if they dont get to lay down.

      • Ok, so Danny admits they are confined while eating. Sounds cruel and unnatural. Sorry Dairy Guy, is Danny some authority on the subject? I don’t know him. Do you?
        My question was a genuine one because the dairy industry you describe is very different to the one I have read about. If you are calling me naive because ‘Danny’ has spoken then you need to back that up? While you are at it, please explain what Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are and how they work? Thanks

        • Cows are free to roam, but there are stantions that can be locked so health checks can be done with the veterinarian. The cows can eat while they are locked. Instead of trying to chase cows down and rope them on a horse as in the old days (which is stressful for the cows), cows can instead be restrained in a very low stress, humane, way. Typically they are not locked very long and they don’t even notice because it is time they would have spent eating anyways.

          • Be honest Dairy Guy, not all cows are free to roam. I assume you know what Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are but you failed to explain them. Please tell your audience what they are, how they work and what the benefits to the industry are.

          • CAFO is a derogatory way to say farm.. All farms are CAFO, but the reality is that Farms are nothing more than bovine villages.

          • The first thing that comes up when the term ‘Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation’ is Googled:
            “In the terminology of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) is an animal feeding operation (AFO) that (a) confines animals for more than 45 days during a growing season, (b) in an area that does not produce vegetation, and (c) meets certain size thresholds.”

          • Yes, a farm. So some guys in a room get together and decide to make something sound really complicated. I’m sure you’ve heard of the DHMO (Dihydrogen Monoxide) and its dangers. It is also known as hydroxyl acid, and is the major component of acid rain. It causes burns in some instances, is used in nuclear power plants, is an ingredient in many junk foods, and has been found in the tumors of terminal cancer patients. Thousands of people die each year from direct exposure to concentrated forms of DHMO also known as water.

  8. Fact 18. says The average cow drinks 30 to 50 gallons of water each day. Wow!! That sounds like really bad news for the environment? Does that also include the water that goes into growing their feed? Surely this can’t be an efficient use of water?

    • Animals have a right to exist and drink water. It might seem like a lot, but they are converting water to protein and fat. Nessarary nutrients for life. You cannot exist on water alone. Cows are part of this world and have been since the creation of this world. Eliminating them would be a tragedy..

  9. Fact 19. says The average cow produces 70 lbs. of milk. That’s 8 gallons per day! Wowza!! That sounds a huge amount for the poor cow. Is that a natural amount of milk for a mother cow to produce to feed her calf or have humans selectively bred dairy cows to have unnaturally large udders?

    • Pretty amazing right, it does sound like a lot but perspectively -70 lbs is about 8 gallons of milk. Cows are milked 3 times per day so they are carrying at most 2.5 gallons or 20 lbs.. A cow weighs approx 1,200 lbs. so 20 lbs. in reality, is not that much for her to carry. Comparing to a person of 180lbs, it’s like carrying 3 lbs.. Breeding wise, farmers select bulls that will make udders stronger. Breeding has focused on the whole animal to improve body composition, strength, and durability. Interestingly, when the whole cow is improved, it results in more milk. Basically because of good health, she can produce more. Udder size has actually gotten smaller over the years.

      • Thank you for confirming that it is in fact an unnaturally large amount of milk for a mother cow to produce for her calf by admitting that dairy farmers have selectively bred cows to have “stronger” (larger?) udders which produce more milk? Did I understand that right?
        So according to you Dairy Guy, cows produce more milk than they used to but have smaller udders, right? That’s magic! How is that physically possible? Makes little sense… are you familiar with the expression “you can’t get a quart into a pint pot!”

        • I just proved that it is not unnatural. If you took a lactation physiology class, you may be able to understand how milk production actually works. You can indeed have more milk from a smaller, stronger udder.

          • Is your opinion, but I just told you cows are bred to offset their weaknesses which makes a healthier and happy cow.

  10. Fact 22. says Dairy cows are economic job creating machines! 1 dairy cow creates 4 full time jobs in the local community. I just read there are 9 million dairy cows in the US alone, that’s 36 million jobs created by cows according to your stats Dairy Guy. That sounds a lot. Is that right? I can’t imagine the poor cow knows or cares much about human job creation… just saying. I know it’s a bit different, but the slave trade created thousands and thousands of jobs and those involved said this was a good thing at the time. I guess they were proved wrong.

    • Yes, cows have had a big impact on humanity, from work to nutrition. People often don’t see the value of their existence, but cows are the foster mothers of the human race. Many people don’t know that.

  11. …otherwise some nice facts there Dairy Guy. I particularly like the one about the stairs and that no two cows are the same; they are all different – just like humans!!

  12. Yes Dairy Guy, cows have had a huge impact on modern man, probably only second to the horse. Man learned how to harness and exploit these two placid herbivores to further his own end. I hope you can appreciate that I value their place in mans modern evolution, because I do. However, it is a very different world we live in today where we no longer need a horse for transport or to provide power. No, we have machines to do this. In exactly the same way, we no longer need to exploit cows for food or leather. It sounds so blindingly obvious when you think about it…

    • So we recognize that the cow has helped humanity throughout the ages, but then you say cows are outdated and we don’t need them. Take your factory produced soy beverage to replace milk and factory assembled “food product.” Soon you can upload your consciousness to the internet and exist on dark energy lol

      • I most certainly did not say cows were outdated Dairy Guy, naughty, and yes, we most definitely do need cows in our world. I simply implied that we no longer HAVE to exploit them for their power, leather or for food to survive. Alternatives exist. Cows used to pull the plough, now the farmer uses a tractor, etc. you know the rest…
        I think cows are very ‘now’; they are gorgeous, placid, friendly animals and deserve a much better life than being held captive on a dairy farm, one free of toil and exploitation. Clearly that’s where we differ…

        • You said we no longer need cows..because we don’t need them. Oh and because they are polluting the earth..

          • No I didn’t. I said “we no longer need to exploit cows for food or leather”. Take a look, it’s written right above! re-read it then have another go at answering me properly… making stuff up isn’t helping your cause

  13. Whoa, now hang on a minute Dairy Guy, you appear to know your stuff, but please answer me this:
    According to statistics, between 1960 and 2008 total U.S. milk production rose from 120 billion pounds to 190 billion pounds while the number of dairy cows shrank from 18 million animals to 8.5 million. So milk factory yield was up 2.5 times what it was 50 years previous. Is this right?
    Selective breeding as you describe it sounds unnatural and awful for the cow. Is this done to maximise milk production? Bigger stronger cows = more milk?
    I’ve seen dairy cows with udders the size of space hoppers, where the cow can hardly walk. They are virtually disabled and seem in pain. Do cows like this really exist?

    • Interesting statistics right, yes, 9 million dairy cows today produced 59% more milk than 25 million dairy cows in 1944. This means the carbon footprint of dairy farming has shrunk over 63%. But even with the advancement in sustainability, it is not hurting cows as I pointed out. Cows are actually just getting better and more balanced. Stronger does not mean bigger, and cows today are trending smaller. The ancestors of the cows were over 3,300 lbs. while today at 1,200 lbs. When you talk about the cows with the big udders, those are cows who have not had good breeding. They are the worst performers, the ones that need to be improved genetically. They are not the cows setting milk records and were more common in the past than today. I will show in a future post how cows looked in the past and today so you can see for yourself.

      • The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrial scale cow farming (both beef and dairy) are alarmingly high aren’t they Dairy Guy? Animal Factory Farming accounts for around 14% of all GHG emissions according to recent figures. I can’t believe you think this is okay.
        Quoting a cow’s ancestry to support your claim that cows have become smaller when the reality is they have been selectively bred to be considerably bigger than 50 years ago, is dubious to say the least. There used to be some very large creatures on this earth which man hunted to extinction. An easy example; it used to be common to catch tuna fish 3m long. Now your average tuna caught is around 1m. Is this your idea of “trending smaller”?
        Bingo!!! So you admit that there are cows with ginormous udders out there. That’s right, they are bred specifically for industrial scale factory farming no question. Quick cheap milk, kill ’em when they’re spent, that’s the deal. You would serve your cause better DG by attacking immoral factory farming practices rather than trying to defent the dairy industry as a whole.

        • No they aren’t – Blaming cows for pollution is a scapegoat case. That figure is wrong, Carbon footprint of dairies is 63% less than in the past. Cows are a natural part of the world and so are other animals. The “waste” they produce is nutrients for the soil. Let me ask you, are there humans with large mammaries, to say they are unnatural is offensive. Genetic diversity exists in all specie. However farmers are trying to bring better balance to animals. You always try to make farmers seem greedy, but economically, taking care of cows makes the most economical sense..

          • I’m not blaming innocent cows for contributing towards global warming silly, I’m blaming industrial scale meat and dairy farmers; it is extremely well documented as a subject’ there is no denying it; it is irrefutable. So, a climate-change denier too Dairy Guy, you really don’t surprise me!
            Of course there are ladies out there with large breasts, just like there are tall people or red haired people too. Wow, how did they get that way Dairy Guy? It’s like magic! You do understand how evolution works right, and that ‘selective breeding’ is something completely different altogether?
            Tell me, if you wanted to create an entire sub-species of women with ginormous breasts, how would you go about it Dairy Guy? Please explain the selective gene process including artificial insemination…
            Good to see you admit you are motivated by money

          • Farms are the cows, cows are the farms- that argument makes no sense. Farms are living, breathing ecosystems of biodiversity. They are alive and connected to the local ecology. The “waste” the cows produce is applied to surrounding fields which grow crops. It is sustainable and renewable. Can there be improvements, of course! Researchers have found ways of turning the gas cows produce into electricity and natural gas. I just read an article that turns pig waste into ingredients for roads. Everything produced on a farm can be used, even the “waste”. To say farms are the major polluter in this world is naïve and you are living in denial. It makes us feel better to say it’s the cows fault, but that won’t solve the problems cause by ourselves.. I’ll let you indulge yourself in the mammary scenario. Tall people get tall drinking milk. Go read my article http://www.dairymoos.com/drinking-milk-makes-you-taller/

  14. Hey Dairy Guy, here are 8 more great facts about cows courtesy of our friends at ChooseVeg.com

    1. Cows like to sleep close to their families, and their sleeping arrangements reflect their respective rankings in the social hierarchy.
    2. Cows have great memories, and can learn and respond to their names.
    3. Like humans, cows form close friendships. They choose to spend much of their time with two to four preferred companions.
    4. Cows get excited when they solve problems, and have a similarly happy response to being released after a long period of confinement.
    5. The first few minutes after birth can mark the beginning of a lifelong bond between a mother cow and her calf. Cows carry their young for nine months and they suckle them for nine to twelve months, much like human mothers.
    6. Cows love music! A quick Google search will easily garner dozens of videos showing musicians serenading appreciative cows.
    7. Research shows that a mother cow’s calls are individualized—she has a different call for each of her calves.
    8. Cows can live anywhere from 15 to 25 years! And the oldest recorded cow, Big Bertha, lived to be 48!!

    While cows have demonstrated that they are intelligent, sensitive creatures deserving of protection, factory farmers treat them as meat- and milk-producing machines.

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