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Cow 101


I recently came across a vegan blog about feedlots, and saw a comment on a roadside-feedlot-video that asked, “Are those cows dead, or do cows sleep lying down?” So I realized: Most people don’t know what normal cows look like! Actually, we even had some feedtruck drivers on the feedlot accidentally call sleeping cows in over the radio as dead ones. So here are some basics for those who are interested for the sake of dissecting videos or just for the fun of the know-cow!

  • Calves are born after a little over 9 months of pregnancy. They weigh roughly 70-90 lbs at birth!
  • Cows don’t have 4 stomachs, but rather a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber looks VERY different and helps provide a different function for digestion.
  • Both male and female cattle can have horns.
  • Female cattle have udders.
  • Cows do sleep laying down. In fact, they can adopt just about any sleeping position a dog can do, (on one side with legs out, curled up, or how dogs lay when you tell them “lay down”–back legs tucked under). The only sleeping position I have not seen in a cow that is shared with dogs is this one (Although I guess it’s possible):
  • My foster dog's fav sleeping position. How is this comfy?

  • Cows bellow (moo) for all sorts of reasons: hunger, communication, distress, challenge. Each moo varies.
  • Cattle naturally move away from people. That’s why it’s relatively easy to move them without causing much stress. It’s basically a system of “poking” their space bubble just enough to make them move opposite of you. Just like humans, each individual cow has it’s own sized space bubble.
  • Cattle are also naturally curious. This is why if you pull over at a fence and stand there for a while (quietly), they will likely approach you, smell you, maybe even lick you (if they’re brave) to see what you are like and why you are there. This is one reason cattle can look cramped together in photographs, as they become very curious of a cameraman and thus seem to bask in the limelight :)
  • Cattle can and will pick their nose with their tongue.
  • “I just threw up a little in my mouth” is a phrase that takes on a whole new meaning in Cow-World. Healthy, happy cattle will naturally eructate to bring large bits of feed back into their mouth for more chewing. This is known as chewing the cud, and many cattle will find a nice, sunny (or shady if its especially hot) place to lie down after grazing to chew the cud.
  • The chick-fil-a cow (large white with black spots) is actually a Holstein breed, which is a dairy cow. While it will most likely eventually become beef, it is not raised for that primary purpose.
  • Cattle come in black, brown, red, grey, white,and various spotted patterns. My personal favorite is the brockle-faced ones (freckle faced). Some have LOTS of spots all over their face, or others just have small freckles on their noses, like this Simmental-breed heifer calf:

    My friend Marti & her halterbreak-project calf, Squirt. He has the cutest black spots on his otherwise pink nose. (Photo courtesy of Marti Helbert)

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    Monday 101 Day is a new theme I am launching in efforts of 1. educating the average reader about interesting tidbits in the various facets of the Agriculture world as I learn them. 2- improving my abilities to speak volumes with few words (I was not blessed with brevity). If you are an average, removed-from-ag reader who would like to learn something, or if you are a farmer/rancher who thinks something should be shared, please leave me a comment! I’m always looking for cool ideas :)

    Happy Monday!! Hope everyone has a great week

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