30 Cool Cow Facts You Will Love

Cows dot fields and pastures across many countries.

As gentle giants of the pasture, cows are so much more than just a source of dairy and beef. They also contribute to local economies and even have significant environmental impacts.

They are intelligent, highly social animals and are even honored as sacred creatures in some parts of the world.

Here are 30 facts about cows you may find interesting.


For everyday purposes, we often incorrectly use the term "cow" to describe both male and female forms of Bos taurus, or cattle.

Bulls are male cattle and cows are female cattle.
To complicate it further, young female cattle are heifers, and young bulls are oxen or bullocks (until they're castrated, when they become steers!)

Cows tend to weigh less than bulls, typically around 800 to 2,400 pounds (363-1,088 kilograms), as opposed to about the typical bull's 1,000 to 4,000 lbs (454-1,814 kg).

Cows can naturally live for as long as 15-20 years.
The oldest cow on record was Big Bertha, who lived to the ripe old age of 48 years and 9 months in Ireland!

Most cows don't live past six years old, though, as they stop producing milk around this age. After this, they're sold for meat.
On average, beef cows are slaughtered when they are between 1 to 2 years old.

As of 2023, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that there are around 1 billion cows worldwide!

According to a language specialist at the University of London, different cows have distinct accents when mooing, which is influenced by a cow's herd.

Related: Do Cows Moo in Different Accents?

Johne's disease, a disease typically found in dairy cows, causes chronic diarrhea, immense weight loss, and a decline in milk production.
Johne's disease is an infectious bacterial disease that primarily affects the intestinal tract and associated lymph nodes of ruminants.

Cows have to be pregnant to produce milk. The hormones that encourage milk production get stimulated in the third and fourth trimester and the cows begin producing milk right after delivery.

Related: 35 Fun Facts About Milk

Cows have different lactation cycles, and the milk they produce is different in each cycle.
The cycle is split into four phases, the early, mid and late lactation (each of about 120 days, or d) and the dry period (which should last as long as 65 d). In an ideal world, cows calve every 12 months.
A number of changes occur in cows as they progress through different stages of lactation. For example, cow milk from the late-lactation cycle is lower in lactose and higher in protein!

While cow's milk often appears white, it can sometimes take on a yellowish hue when it's rich in carotene, a natural pigment found in plants.

Related: Why is Milk White?

The Holstein breed holds the title of the highest milk-producing dairy cattle in the world. Top producers in optimal conditions can give over 30,000 pounds of milk per lactation. The average Holstein in the United States produces around 23,000 pounds annually.
The downside to Holstein cow milk is that it contains less fat and protein than other breeds.

Typically, cows can only produce one gallon (3.8 L) of milk per day. With genetic modification and a strategic diet, though, they can produce up to 6-7 gallons (23-26 L).

Milking cows at night leads to milk with higher levels of tryptophan and melatonin, both of which are essential for improving sleep!

A cow's water intake depends on whether it's producing milk or not.
For dairy cows, they need about 30-40 gallons (113-151 liters) of water daily, while 9-12 gallons (34-45 L) can be enough for dry cows.

Cows are ruminants, which are basically herbivorous animals that bring back swallowed food (the cud) into their mouths to chew it again till it becomes easily digestible.
Cow stomachs are made up of four pouches—the reticulum, the rumen, the omasum, and the abomasum—each serving a specific purpose.
Cows may spend 35 to 40 percent of each day ruminating (cud chewing).

Grasses, legumes, and alfalfa are just some of the foods in a cow's natural diet. On a daily basis, these herbivores are able to eat around 24-26 pounds (11-12 kilograms) of food!

When cows burp, they release methane into Earth's atmosphere, and methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, or a gas that contributes to global warming.
Some farmers are mitigating the methane produced by cows, though, by adding seaweed to their food.

While cows do have both upper and lower teeth, their upper teeth are covered by a dental pad. This feature is common to all ruminants, like goats and sheep, as it helps them chew the cud.

Cows are dichromatic creatures, meaning they can't distinguish red and green. To them, those colors just look like a mix of yellow, brown, and gray.
While they may perceive red as a shade of brown or gray, they do not see it as the vibrant color humans do.

Related: What Colors Do Bulls See?

Cows are often dehorned to prevent them from injuring farmers or other cows.

Beef tongue has a lot of amazing nutrients, it contain lots of iron, zinc, and protein, at about 0.58 ounces (16.4 grams) of protein per 3 oz (85 g) serving!

About 65% of leather goods worldwide are made from cowhide, and India is ironically one of its largest producers.

Cow manure is one of the best organic fertilizers, as it's rich in crucial nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

There are about twice as many cows in New Zealand as there are people, with around 10 million cows and 5 million Kiwis!

In 2015, cows became Nepal's national animal.
As a result, slaughtering cows in the country is forbidden.

Numerous Indian religions also forbid the taking of cow's lives for religious and spiritual purposes.

Certain Indian states, like Punjab and Haryana, have an interesting tax called a cow cess.
It's typically imposed on luxury goods, and the proceeds support stray cows and other animals!

Every second Tuesday in July, the importance of cows is recognized as people worldwide celebrate National Cow Appreciation Day.

In 2011, scientists from China and Argentina genetically engineered 300 cows to produce milk that's nearly identical to human milk!
They had engineered cows to secrete milk containing lysozyme, a protein found in human breastmilk that boosts the immunity of breastfed babies.

Wikipedia - Cattle / Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board / Colorado State University / Livestrong / Veg News / Wikipedia - Cattle in India / National Geographic / WBUR / Business Today / Science Direct / Herd X / Home Biogas / World Animal Protection / National Library of Medicine - Carotenoids / Michigan State University / Britannica / Sentient Media / Guinness World Records / How It See / World Animal Foundation / Penn State / PETA / CBS News / Amelicor / Vernon Morning Star / National Library of Medicine - Night milk / New Roots Institute / SBS News / The Fact Site