Cattle are one of the most popular and familiar types of livestock, but how well do you really know cattle? These amazing bovine facts may surprise you!
Fun Trivia About Cattle
- Cattle were first domesticated roughly 5,000 years ago, and today there are more than 900 breeds of cattle in the world. They are all members of the Bovidae family, which also includes bison, antelope, sheep and goats.
- Approximately 20 people are killed by cattle each year in the United States. The majority of these incidents are the result of trampling or kicking with fatal injuries to a person’s head or chest. Cows in particular can be protective of their calves and won’t hesitate to charge or attack if they feel their young are threatened.
- Cattle communicate not only with moos, lowing and other noises, but they also use body language and facial expressions. Cow hides are also very distinctive and cows can easily recognize one another from different patterns, shapes and colors.
- A cow only produces milk after giving birth to a calf, and most dairy cows are Holsteins. A cow may give as much as 12,500 gallons of milk in its lifetime, which is the equivalent to 250,000 glasses of milk or more than 8,600 gallons of ice cream!
- It takes approximately 350 squirts from the udder to fill up one gallon of milk. When milking by hand, a skilled farmer can fully milk 5-6 cows an hour, while a commercial milking machine is capable of milking roughly 100 cows an hour.
- Cattle have a natural lifespan of 20-30 years depending on their breed and general health. Most cattle are harvested well before this age, however.
- Cattle have excellent senses, and in many cases have better senses than humans. They can hear higher and lower frequencies than humans, and can smell odors as far away as 5-6 miles. Cattle see in color, but they are red-green colorblind. In bullfighting, the bulls are not angry at the color of the matador’s cape, but by the flicking motion that is used to entice a charge.
- The beef and dairy industry is commercially active in all 50 states and involves more than a million different farms, ranches and related businesses. On average, each head of cattle – cow or bull – adds 3-4 jobs to the local economy.
- Ground beef is the most common type of beef, and 30 percent of it will be used to make burgers. Spaghetti sauce is the next most common food, followed closely by Mexican dishes such as tacos, burritos and enchiladas. The majority of cattle butchered for meat are bulls, while cows are used for dairy production.
- Cows are sacred in India and are celebrated at many festivals, but they are not worshipped as gods. Instead, they are highly respected and honored as nurturing creatures – they take only food and water but provide dairy products, labor for tilling fields and fertilizer for growing crops, as well as dung to burn as fuel. It is illegal to slaughter cattle in India, and the meat is considered taboo. At the same time, there are 300 million cattle in India, which is 30 percent of the world’s cattle population.
The next time you enjoy a juicy burger, rich steak or cool drink of milk, remember just how unique and amazing cows truly are!