Did you know, when a city-kid and farm-kid get married, the city-kid learns a lot of facts about cows!
Whether or not you live on a farm surrounded by cows, there are some facts we think anyone would find fascinating. They really are incredible animals.
Here are 27 facts about cows you may find interesting. You can decide which (if any) you want to remember for your next cocktail party or game of trivia!
Facts About Cows
1. All “cows” are female. Males are called bulls or steer. Before having a calf for the very first time, a female is called heifer. Then, once she has her first calf, she becomes a cow.
Video: What’s the difference between a steer vs bull? Cow vs heifer?
2. There are over 800 different cattle breeds recognized worldwide (according to Wikipedia). For example, beef breeds are raised for their meat, and dairy breeds are raised to produce milk. At Clover Meadows Beef, we raise Angus-based cattle, which is a beef breed.
3. What do cows eat? Grass and sometimes grain. Cows don’t eat meat – ever. They’re always “vegetarian fed”. Therefore, if you ever see “vegetarian fed” on a beef label, you know it’s a marketing term designed to get sales.
Video: What Do Cows Eat?
4. Cows can see almost 360 degrees. As a result of this near-panoramic view, they can watch for predators from all angles. However, they don’t see well straight in front of them and they will typically turn their head to look at you.
5. Cows have an acute sense of smell and can detect odors up to six miles away.
6. Cows are very social and don’t like to be alone. For example, when a cow isolates herself it’s usually because she is sick or about to give birth.
7. Cows have no upper front teeth. Therefore, when they’re eating food, they press their sharp bottom teeth against the top hard palate of their mouth to cut blades of grass.
Video: Do Cows Have Teeth?
8. A cow has 32 teeth, and will chew about 40-50 times a minute.
9. A cow will chew for up to eight hours a day, and can move their jaws about 40,000 times a day.
10. Since grass isn’t available in the winter for cattle to eat, it’s very important that farmers harvest grass so that cattle can eat it in the winter. That process is called “making hay”. This is a very busy and critical time of the year on any cattle farm. In short, the fields have to produce enough hay in order to feed the animals through the winter.
Video: Making Hay Bales for Winter
After cutting the hay, we bale it with a baler.
Video: Feeding Hay Bales in Winter
11. On average, one cow will eat five bales of hay during a typical winter. Each bale of hay weighs 600 pounds. Our cattle love hay and they follow the tractor whenever they see it coming.
12. Cows spend about 10 hours a day lying down, and they will stand up and lay down about fourteen times a day. Cows can sleep while they’re standing.
13. The first cow arrived in the U.S. in 1611 in Jamestown.
14. The U.S. produces about 25% of the world’s beef. This is extremely impressive when you consider that the 31.7 million beef cattle in the U.S. only account for 10% of the world’s beef cattle. Other top beef producing countries are Brazil, China and the European Union.
15. Missouri is one of the leading beef producers in the United States, and has ranked among the top three states for years. Missouri has more beef cows than any other state in America, except for Texas.
16. The average U.S. consumer eats 61 pounds of beef per year and this is mostly ground beef. That’s about 5% of a steer. The amount consumed by Americans has been gradually decreasing over the last few decades. In 1985, an American ate about 80 pounds of beef per year. In 1995, that number had decreased to about 65 pounds per year. Argentinans eat more beef than anyone else in the world — they each eat about 140 pounds of beef per year.
Cows are Ruminants
17. Cows are ruminants, which are cud chewing mammals. Other ruminant animals are sheep, giraffe, goats, and deer, just to name a few. Cows have 4 digestive compartments in one stomach – the rumen (this is where the cud comes from); the reticulum; omasum; and abomasum (this is sort of like a human’s stomach).
18. The main stomach of a cow, the rumen, holds up to 50 gallons of food that has been partially digested. To put that in perspective, a bathtub can usually hold 30-50 gallons of water. A cow will consume about 40 pounds of food in a day.
19. Farmers use ear tags as an animal identification system that helps keep track of important information about each animal, such as birth date, gender, age, weight, etc.
Video: Why do cattle have ear tags? (Hint: They’re really important)
20. Cows can see color. They can even see red. When you see a Matador waving a red flag at a bull (a male “cow”), the bull charges because of the flag’s movement.
21. The average body temperature of a cow is 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
22. In the winter, cows thick skin and hair is a natural insulator that protects them from the bitter cold.
Video: Facts About Cows: Cows in Snow
23. When you purchase a cow from a farmer, there will be about 450-500 pounds of edible beef. Of this, 200+ pounds will be ground beef. The remaining beef is in a variety of cuts like steaks, roasts, ribs, brisket, tenderloin, etc.
Video: Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It and How Much Freezer Space Is Needed?
24. In the 1850’s, nearly every family in the U.S. had its own cow.
25. All cattle (even grass finished cattle) sometimes need to eat something other than grass in order to be healthy, like mineral. Like all animals, cattle require a balance of nutrients for survival. They receive these nutrients through their diet, which provides six basic cattle nutrients: water, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Video: What do cows eat? Why cattle nutrition is important to everybody that eats beef
26. The hamburger debuted at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Yum!
27. Almost 2,000 quarter pound hamburgers can be made from the ground beef in one cow.
One more thing!
Do you want to learn more about beef? Join our weekly e-newsletter where we share farm happenings, recipes and beef availability. Sign-up and get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer. Or, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a cattle farmers perspective.
Here are a few other links you may like:
- What’s the Difference Between a Steer vs Bull? Cow vs Heifer?
- Making Hay
- One Pan BBQ Beef Short Ribs
- Easy Carne Asada Street Tacos
- 7 Steps to Grilling a Steak to Perfection
- How We Raise Our Grass Fed Beef
- The Best Farm Books for Kids
cows also get married guys suprised they didnt include that >:(((
Coco and Timber
Love the article!
I shared this list with people around around the table, and actually lost friends. No one was impressed.
Enjoyed learning fact about cows. Thanks. Mary & Ron