TaxonomyCattle were originally identified as three separate species: ''Bos taurus'', the European or "taurine" cattle (including similar types from Africa and Asia); ''Bos indicus'', the ; and the extinct ''Bos primigenius'', the . The aurochs is ancestral to both zebu and taurine cattle. They were later reclassified as one species, ''Bos taurus'', with the aurochs and zebu as subspecies. However, more recent studies support them as being three distinct species, which is the classification followed by the . Complicating the matter is the ability of cattle to with other closely related species. Hybrid individuals and even breeds exist, not only between taurine cattle and zebu (such as the (''Bos taurus africanus'' x ''Bos indicus''), but also between one or both of these and some other members of the '' '' s (the or yattle), , and . Hybrids such as the breed can even occur between taurine cattle and either species of , leading some authors to consider them part of the genus ''Bos'', as well. The hybrid origin of some types may not be obvious – for example, of the Dwarf Lulu breed, the only taurine-type cattle in Nepal, found them to be a mix of taurine cattle, zebu, and yak. However, cattle cannot be successfully hybridized with more distantly related bovines such as or . The aurochs originally ranged throughout Europe, North Africa, and much of Asia. In historical times, its range became restricted to Europe, and the last known individual died in , Poland, in about 1627. Breeders have attempted to recreate cattle of similar appearance to aurochs by crossing traditional types of domesticated cattle, creating the breed. The only pure African taurine breeds (''Bos taurus africanus'') remaining are the , Kuri and some varieties of the West African Shorthorn.
Etymology''Cattle'' did not originate as the term for bovine animals. It was borrowed from , itself from medieval Latin 'principal sum of money, capital', itself derived in turn from Latin 'head'. ''Cattle'' originally meant movable , especially livestock of any kind, as opposed to (the land, which also included wild or small free-roaming animals such as chickens—they were sold as part of the land). The word is a variant of '' chattel'' (a unit of personal property) and closely related to '' '' in the economic sense. The term replaced earlier 'cattle, property', which survives today as ''fee'' ( , , ). The word ''cow'' came via (plural ), from Common Indo-European ( ) 'a bovine animal', cf. fa, gâv, script=Latn, sa, go-, script=Latn, cy, buwch. The plural became or in Middle English, and an additional plural ending was often added, giving , , but also , and others. This is the origin of the now archaic English plural, ''kine''. The singular is or , and the plural is . In older English sources such as the of the Bible, ''cattle'' refers to livestock, as opposed to ''deer'' which refers to wildlife. ''Wild cattle'' may refer to cattle or to undomesticated species of the genus '' ''. Today, when used without any other qualifier, the modern meaning of ''cattle'' is usually restricted to domesticated bovines.
TerminologyIn general, the same words are used in different parts of the world, but with minor differences in the definitions. The terminology described here contrasts the differences in definition between the United Kingdom and other British-influenced parts of the world such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United States. * An "intact" (i.e., not ) adult male is called a ''bull''. ** A father bull is called a ''sire'' with reference to his offspring. * An adult female that has had a calf (or two, depending on regional usage) is a ''cow''. ** A mother cow is called a ''dam'' with reference to her offspring. Often, mentions of ''dams'' imply cows kept in the herd for repeated breeding (as opposed to heifers or cows sold off sooner). * A young female before she has had a calf of her own and who is under three years of age is called a '' '' ( ).Delbridge, Arthur, The Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd ed., Macquarie Library, North Ryde, 1991 A young female that has had only one calf is occasionally called a ''first-calf heifer''. ''Heiferettes'' are either first-calf heifers or a subset thereof without potential to become lineage dams, depending on whose definition is operative. * Young cattle (of any sex or intersex) are called '' '' until they are , then ''weaners'' until they are a year old in some areas; in other areas, particularly with male beef cattle, they may be known as ''feeder calves'' or simply ''feeders''. After that, they are referred to as ''yearlings'' or ''stirks'' if between one and two years of age. * '' '' or ''store cattle'' are young cattle soon to be either backgrounded or sent to fattening, most especially those intended to be sold to someone else for finishing. In some regions, a distinction between ''stockers'' and ''feeders'' (by those names) is the distinction of backgrounding versus immediate sale to a finisher. * A castrated male is called a ''steer'' in the United States; older steers are often called ''bullocks'' in other parts of the world, but in North America this term refers to a young bull. Piker bullocks are micky bulls (uncastrated young male bulls) that were caught, castrated and then later lost. In Australia, the term ''Japanese ox'' is used for grain-fed steers in the weight range of 500 to 650 kg that are destined for the Japanese meat trade. In North America, draft cattle under four years old are called working steers. Improper or late castration on a bull results in it becoming a coarse steer known as a ''stag'' in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In some countries, an incompletely castrated male is known also as a '' rig''. * A castrated male (occasionally a female or in some areas a bull) kept for draft or riding purposes is called an '' '' (plural ''oxen''); ''ox'' may also be used to refer to some carcass products from any adult cattle, such as ox-hide, ox-blood, oxtail, or ox-liver. * A ''springer'' is a cow or heifer close to calving. * In all cattle species, a female twin of a bull usually becomes an infertile partial , and is called a '' ''. * A wild, young, unmarked bull is known as a ''micky'' in Australia.Coupe, Sheena (ed.), Frontier Country, Vol. 1, Weldon Russell Publishing, Willoughby, 1989, * An unbranded bovine of either sex is called a ''maverick'' in the US and Canada. * ''Neat'' (horned oxen, from which is derived), ''beef'' (young ox) and ''beefing'' (young animal fit for slaughtering) are obsolete terms, although ''poll'', ''pollard'' and '' polled cattle'' are still terms in use for naturally hornless animals, or in some areas also for those that have been disbudded or dehorned. * Cattle raised for human consumption are called '' ''. Within the American beef cattle industry, the older term beef (plural beeves) is still used to refer to an animal of either sex. Some Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and British people use the term ''beast''. * Cattle bred specifically for milk production are called ''milking'' or '' ''; a cow kept to provide milk for one family may be called a '' '' or ''milker''. A ''fresh cow'' is a dairy term for a cow or first-calf heifer who has recently given birth, or "freshened." * The adjective applying to cattle in general is usually ''bovine''. The terms ''bull'', ''cow'' and ''calf'' are also used by extension to denote the sex or age of other large animals, including whales, es, s, and elephants. * Various other terms for cattle or types thereof are ; these include '' nowt'', '' nolt'', '' '', and others.
Singular terminology issue"Cattle" can only be used in the and not in the : it is a . Thus one may refer to "three cattle" or "some cattle", but not "one cattle". "One head of cattle" is a valid though periphrastic way to refer to one animal of indeterminate or unknown age and sex; otherwise no universally used single-word singular form of ''cattle'' exists in modern English, other than the sex- and age-specific terms such as ''cow'', ''bull'', ''steer'' and ''heifer''. Historically, "ox" was not a sex-specific term for adult cattle, but generally this is now used only for , especially adult castrated males. The term is also incorporated into the names of other species, such as the and "grunting ox" ( ), and is used in some areas to describe certain cattle products such as ox-hide and . ''Cow'' is in general use as a singular for the collective ''cattle.'' The word ''cow'' is easy to use when a singular is needed and the sex is unknown or irrelevant—when "there is a cow in the road", for example. Further, any herd of fully mature cattle in or near a is statistically likely to consist mostly of cows, so the term is probably accurate even in the restrictive sense. Other than the few bulls needed for breeding, the vast majority of male cattle are castrated as calves and are used as en or slaughtered for meat before the age of three years. Thus, in a pastured herd, any calves or herd bulls usually are clearly distinguishable from the cows due to distinctively different sizes and clear anatomical differences. Merriam-Webster and Oxford Living Dictionaries recognize the sex-nonspecific use of ''cow'' as an alternate definition, whereas Collins and the OED do not. ly, more general non terms may denote cattle when a singular form is needed. ''Head of cattle'' is usually used only after a numeral. Australian, New Zealand and British farmers use the term ''beast'' or ''cattle beast''. ''Bovine'' is also used in Britain. The term ''critter'' is common in the western United States and Canada, particularly when referring to young cattle. In some areas of the American South (particularly the Appalachian region), where both dairy and beef cattle are present, an individual animal was once called a "beef critter", though that term is becoming .
Other terminologyCattle raised for human consumption are called '' ''. Within the beef cattle industry in parts of the United States, the term ''beef'' (plural ''beeves'') is still used in its archaic sense to refer to an animal of either sex. Cows of certain breeds that are kept for the milk they give are called '' s'' or ''milking cows'' (formerly ''milch cows''). Most young male offspring of dairy cows are sold for , and may be referred to as veal calves. The term ''dogies'' is used to describe orphaned calves in the context of work in the , as in "Keep them dogies moving". In some places, a cow kept to provide milk for one family is called a "house cow". Other obsolete terms for cattle include "neat" (this use survives in " ", extracted from the feet and legs of cattle), and "beefing" (young animal fit for slaughter). An term for one of the most common made by cattle is ''moo'' (also called ''lowing''). There are a number of other sounds made by cattle, including calves ''bawling'', and bulls ''bellowing''. Bawling is most common for cows after weaning of a calf. The makes a sound similar to a bull's territorial call.
AnatomyCattle are large s with . Most breeds have horn (anatomy), horns, which can be as large as the Texas Longhorn or small like a scur. Careful genetic selection has allowed polled livestock, polled (hornless) cattle to become widespread.
Digestive systemCattle are ruminants, meaning their Gastrointestinal tract, digestive system is highly specialized to allow the consumption of difficult to digest plants as food. Cattle have one stomach with four compartments, the rumen, Reticulum (anatomy), reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment. The reticulum, the smallest compartment, is known as the "honeycomb". The omasum's main function is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible feed. The omasum is known as the "many plies". The abomasum is like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the "true stomach". Cattle are known for regurgitation (digestion), regurgitating and re-chewing their food, known as cud chewing, like most ruminants. While the animal is feeding, the food is swallowed without being chewed and goes into the rumen for storage until the animal can find a quiet place to continue the digestion process. The food is regurgitated, a mouthful at a time, back up to the mouth, where the food, now called the cud, is chewed by the molars, grinding down the coarse vegetation to small particles. The cud is then swallowed again and further digested by specialized microorganisms in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel. The microbes inside the rumen also synthesize amino acids from non-protein nitrogenous sources, such as urea and ammonia. As these microbes reproduce in the rumen, older generations die and their cells continue on through the digestive tract. These cells are then partially digested in the small intestines, allowing cattle to gain a high-quality protein source. These features allow cattle to thrive on Poaceae, grasses and other tough vegetation.
Gestation and sizeThe gestation period for a cow is about nine months long. A newborn calf's size can vary among breeds, but a typical calf weighs . Adult size and weight vary significantly among breeds and sex. Steers are generally slaughtered before reaching . Breeding stock may be allowed a longer lifespan, occasionally living as long as 25 years. The oldest recorded cow, Big Bertha (cow), Big Bertha, died at the age of 48 in 1993.
ReproductionOn farms it is very common to use artificial insemination (AI), a assisted reproductive technology, medically assisted reproduction technique consisting of the artificial deposition of semen in the Female Reproductive System, female's genital tract. It is used in cases where the spermatozoa can not reach the fallopian tubes or simply by choice of the owner of the animal. It consists of transferring, to the uterus, uterine cavity, spermatozoa previously collected and processed, with the selection of morphologically more normal and mobile spermatozoa. A cow's udder contains two pairs of mammary glands, (commonly referred to as ''teats'') creating four "quarters". The front ones are referred to as ''fore quarters'' and the rear ones ''rear quarters''. Synchronization of cattle ovulation to benefit dairy farming may be accomplished via Induced ovulation (animals), induced ovulation techniques. Bulls become fertile at about seven months of age. Their fertility is closely related to the size of their testicles, and one simple test of fertility is to measure the circumference of the scrotum: a young bull is likely to be fertile once this reaches ; that of a fully adult bull may be over . A bull has a fibro-elastic penis. Given the small amount of erectile tissue, there is little enlargement after erection. The penis is quite rigid when non-erect, and becomes even more rigid during erection. Protrusion is not affected much by erection, but more by relaxation of the retractor penis muscle and straightening of the sigmoid flexure.
WeightThe weight of adult cattle varies, depending on the breed. Smaller kinds, such as Dexter and Jersey adults, range between . Large Continental breeds, such as Charolais, Marchigiana, Belgian Blue and Chianina adults range from . British breeds, such as Hereford, Angus, and Shorthorn, mature at , occasionally higher, particularly with Angus and Hereford. Bulls are larger than cows of the same breed by up to a few hundred kilograms. British Hereford cows weigh ; the bulls weigh . Chianina bulls can weigh up to ; British bulls, such as Angus and Hereford, can weigh as little as and as much as . The world record for the heaviest bull was , a Chianina named Donetto, when he was exhibited at the Arezzo show in 1955.Friend, John B., Cattle of the World, Blandford Press, Dorset, 1978 The heaviest steer was eight-year-old 'Old Ben', a Shorthorn/Hereford Cattle, Hereford cross weighing in at in 1910.McWhirter, Norris & Ross, ''Guinness Book of Records'', Redwood Press, Trowbridge, 1968 In the United States, the average weight of beef cattle has steadily increased, especially since the 1970s, requiring the building of new slaughterhouses able to handle larger carcasses. New packing plants in the 1980s stimulated a large increase in cattle weights. Before 1790 beef cattle averaged only net; and thereafter weights climbed steadily.
CognitionIn laboratory studies, young cattle are able to memorize the locations of several food sources and retain this memory for at least 8 hours, although this declined after 12 hours. Fifteen-month-old heifers learn more quickly than adult cows which have had either one or two calvings, but their longer-term memory is less stable. Mature cattle perform well in spatial learning tasks and have a good long-term memory in these tests. Cattle tested in a radial arm maze are able to remember the locations of high-quality food for at least 30 days. Although they initially learn to avoid low-quality food, this memory diminishes over the same duration. Under less artificial testing conditions, young cattle showed they were able to remember the location of feed for at least 48 days. Cattle can make an association between a visual stimulus and food within 1 day—memory of this association can be retained for 1 year, despite a slight decay. Calves are capable of discrimination learning and adult cattle compare favourably with small mammals in their learning ability in the Closed-field Test. They are also able to discriminate between familiar individuals, and among humans. Cattle can tell the difference between familiar and unfamiliar animals of the same species (conspecifics). Studies show they behave less aggressively toward familiar individuals when they are forming a new group. Calves can also discriminate between humans based on previous experience, as shown by approaching those who handled them positively and avoiding those who handled them aversively. Although cattle can discriminate between humans by their faces alone, they also use other cues such as the color of clothes when these are available. In audio play-back studies, calves prefer their own mother's vocalizations compared to the vocalizations of an unfamiliar mother. In laboratory studies using images, cattle can discriminate between images of the heads of cattle and other animal species. They are also able to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics. Furthermore, they are able to Categorization, categorize images as familiar and unfamiliar individuals. When mixed with other individuals, Cloning, cloned calves from the same donor form subgroups, indicating that kin discrimination occurs and may be a basis of grouping behaviour. It has also been shown using images of cattle that both artificially inseminated and cloned calves have similar cognitive capacities of kin and non-kin discrimination. Cattle can recognize familiar individuals. Visual individual recognition is a more complex mental process than visual discrimination. It requires the recollection of the learned idiosyncratic identity of an individual that has been previously encountered and the formation of a mental representation. By using two-dimensional images of the heads of one cow (face, profiles, views), all the tested heifers showed individual recognition of familiar and unfamiliar individuals from their own breed. Furthermore, almost all the heifers recognized unknown individuals from different breeds, although this was achieved with greater difficulty. Individual recognition was most difficult when the visual features of the breed being tested were quite different from the breed in the image, for example, the breed being tested had no spots whereas the image was of a spotted breed. Cattle use Lateralization of brain function, visual/brain lateralisation in their visual scanning of novel and familiar stimuli. Domestic cattle prefer to view novel stimuli with the left eye, i.e. using the right brain hemisphere (similar to horses, Australian magpies, chicks, toads and fish) but use the right eye, i.e. using the left hemisphere, for viewing familiar stimuli.
Temperament and emotionsIn cattle, temperament can affect production traits such as carcass and meat quality or milk yield as well as affecting the animal's overall health and reproduction. Cattle temperament is defined as "the consistent behavioral and physiological difference observed between individuals in response to a stressor or environmental challenge and is used to describe the relatively stable difference in the behavioral predisposition of an animal, which can be related to psychobiological mechanisms". Generally, cattle temperament is assumed to be multidimensional. Five underlying categories of temperament traits have been proposed: * shyness–boldness * exploration–avoidance * activity * Aggression in cattle, aggressiveness * sociability In a study on Holstein–Friesian heifers learning to press a panel to open a gate for access to a food reward, the researchers also recorded the heart rate and behavior of the heifers when moving along the race towards the food. When the heifers made clear improvements in learning, they had higher heart rates and tended to move more vigorously along the race. The researchers concluded this was an indication that cattle may react emotionally to their own learning improvement. Negative emotional states are associated with a bias toward negative responses towards ambiguous cues in judgement tasks. After separation from their mothers, Holstein calves showed such a cognitive bias indicative of low mood. A similar study showed that after hot-iron disbudding (dehorning), calves had a similar negative bias indicating that post-operative pain following this routine procedure results in a negative change in emotional state. In studies of visual discrimination, the position of the ears has been used as an indicator of emotional state. When cattle are stressed other cattle can tell by the chemicals released in their urine. Cattle are very Social animal, gregarious and even short-term isolation is considered to cause severe psychological Stress (biology), stress. When Aubrac (cattle), Aubrac and Friesian heifers are isolated, they increase their vocalizations and experience increased heart rate and plasma cortisol concentrations. These physiological changes are greater in Aubracs. When visual contact is re-instated, vocalizations rapidly decline, regardless of the familiarity of the returning cattle, however, heart rate decreases are greater if the returning cattle are familiar to the previously-isolated individual. Mirrors have been used to reduce stress in isolated cattle.
SensesCattle use all of the five widely recognized sensory modalities. These can assist in some complex behavioural patterns, for example, in grazing behaviour. Cattle eat mixed diets, but when given the opportunity, show a partial preference of approximately 70% clover and 30% grass. This preference has a diurnal pattern, with a stronger preference for clover in the morning, and the proportion of grass increasing towards the evening.
VisionVision is the dominant sense in cattle and they obtain almost 50% of their information visually. Cattle are a prey animal and to assist predator detection, their eyes are located on the sides of their head rather than the front. This gives them a wide field of view of 330° but limits binocular vision (and therefore stereopsis) to 30° to 50° compared to 140° in humans. This means they have a blind spot directly behind them. Cattle have good visual acuity, but compared to humans, their visual accommodation is poor. Cattle have two kinds of color receptors in the cone cells of their retinas. This means that cattle are Dichromacy, dichromatic, as are most other non-primate land mammals. There are two to three rods per cone in the fovea centralis but five to six near the optic papilla. Cattle can distinguish long wavelength colors (yellow, orange and red) much better than the shorter wavelengths (blue, grey and green). Calves are able to discriminate between long (red) and short (blue) or medium (green) wavelengths, but have limited ability to discriminate between the short and medium. They also approach handlers more quickly under red light. Whilst having good color sensitivity, it is not as good as humans or sheep. A common misconception about cattle (particularly bulls) is that they are enraged by the color red (something provocative is often said to be "like a red flag to a bull"). This is a myth. In bullfighting, it is the movement of the red flag or cape that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.
TasteCattle have a well-developed sense of taste and can distinguish the four primary tastes (sweet, salty, bitter and sour). They possess around 20,000 taste buds. The strength of taste perception depends on the individual's current food requirements. They avoid bitter-tasting foods (potentially toxic) and have a marked preference for sweet (high calorific value) and salty foods (electrolyte balance). Their sensitivity to sour-tasting foods helps them to maintain optimal ruminal pH. Plants have low levels of sodium and cattle have developed the capacity of seeking salt by taste and smell. If cattle become depleted of sodium salts, they show increased locomotion directed to searching for these. To assist in their search, the olfactory and gustatory receptors able to detect minute amounts of sodium salts increase their sensitivity as biochemical disruption develops with sodium salt depletion.
HearingCattle hearing ranges from 23 Hertz, Hz to 35 kHz. Their frequency of best sensitivity is 8 kHz and they have a lowest threshold of −21 Decibel, db (re 20 μN/m−2), which means their hearing is more acute than horses (lowest threshold of 7 db). Sound localization acuity thresholds are an average of 30°. This means that cattle are less able to localise sounds compared to goats (18°), dogs (8°) and humans (0.8°). Because cattle have a broad foveal fields of view covering almost the entire horizon, they may not need very accurate locus information from their auditory systems to direct their gaze to a sound source. Vocalizations are an important mode of communication amongst cattle and can provide information on the age, sex, dominance status and reproductive status of the caller. Calves can recognize their mothers using vocalizations; vocal behaviour may play a role by indicating estrus and competitive display by bulls.
Olfaction and gustationCattle have a range of odiferous glands over their body including interdigital, infraorbital, inguinal and sebaceous glands, indicating that olfaction probably plays a large role in their social life. Both the primary olfactory system using the olfactory bulbs, and the secondary olfactory system using the vomeronasal organ are used. This latter olfactory system is used in the flehmen response. There is evidence that when cattle are stressed, this can be recognised by other cattle and this is communicated by alarm substances in the urine. The odour of dog faeces induces behavioural changes prior to cattle feeding, whereas the odours of urine from either stressed or non-stressed conspecifics and blood have no effect. In the laboratory, cattle can be trained to recognise conspecific individuals using olfaction only. In general, cattle use their sense of smell to "expand" on information detected by other sensory modalities. However, in the case of social and reproductive behaviours, olfaction is a key source of information.
TouchCattle have tactile sensations detected mainly by mechanoreceptors, thermoreceptors and nociceptors in the skin and muscles. These are used most frequently when cattle explore their environment.
MagnetoreceptionThere is conflicting evidence for magnetoreception in cattle. One study reported that resting and grazing cattle tend to align their body axes in the geomagnetic north–south direction. In a follow-up study, cattle exposed to various magnetic fields directly beneath or in the vicinity of power lines trending in various magnetic directions exhibited distinct patterns of alignment. However, in 2011, a group of Czechs, Czech researchers reported their failed attempt to replicate the finding using Google Earth images.
BehaviorUnder natural conditions, calves stay with their mother until weaning at 8 to 11 months. Heifer and bull calves are equally attached to their mothers in the first few months of life. Cattle are considered to be "hider" type animals, utilizing secluded areas more in the hours before calving and continued to use it more for the hour after calving. Cows that gave birth for the first time show a higher incidence of abnormal maternal behavior. Beef-calves reared on the range suckle an average of 5.0 times every 24 hours with an average total time of 46 min spent suckling. There is a diurnal rhythm in suckling activity with peaks between 05:00–07:00, 10:00–13:00 and 17:00–21:00.
Reproductive behaviorSemi-wild Highland cattle heifers first give birth at 2 or 3 years of age, and the timing of birth is synchronized with increases in natural food quality. Average calving interval is 391 days, and calving mortality within the first year of life is 5%.
Dominance and leadershipOne study showed that over a 4-year period, dominance relationships within a herd of semi-wild highland cattle were very firm. There were few overt aggressive conflicts and the majority of disputes were settled by agonistic behavior, agonistic (non-aggressive, competitive) behaviors that involved no physical contact between opponents (e.g. threatening and spontaneous withdrawing). Such agonistic behavior reduces the risk of injury. Dominance status depended on age and sex, with older animals generally being dominant to young ones and males dominant to females. Young bulls gained superior dominance status over adult cows when they reached about 2 years of age. As with many animal dominance hierarchies, dominance-associated aggressiveness does not correlate with rank position, but is closely related to rank distance between individuals. Dominance is maintained in several ways. Cattle often engage in mock fights where they test each other's strength in a non-aggressive way. Licking is primarily performed by subordinates and received by dominant animals. Mounting is a playful behavior shown by calves of both sexes and by bulls and sometimes by cows in estrus, however, this is not a dominance related behavior as has been found in other species. The horns of cattle are "honest signals" used in mate selection. Furthermore, horned cattle attempt to keep greater distances between themselves and have fewer physical interactions than hornless cattle. This leads to more stable social relationships. In calves, the frequency of agonistic behavior decreases as space allowance increases, but this does not occur for changes in group size. However, in adult cattle, the number of agonistic encounters increases as the group size increases.
Grazing behaviorWhen grazing, cattle vary several aspects of their bite, i.e. tongue and jaw movements, depending on characteristics of the plant they are eating. Bite area decreases with the density of the plants but increases with their height. Bite area is determined by the sweep of the tongue; in one study observing steers, bite area reached a maximum of approximately . Bite depth increases with the height of the plants. By adjusting their behavior, cattle obtain heavier bites in swards that are tall and sparse compared with short, dense swards of equal mass/area. Cattle adjust other aspects of their grazing behavior in relation to the available food; foraging velocity decreases and intake rate increases in areas of abundant palatable forage. Cattle avoid grazing areas contaminated by the faeces of other cattle more strongly than they avoid areas contaminated by sheep, but they do not avoid pasture contaminated by rabbit faeces.
GeneticsOn 24 April 2009, edition of the journal ''Science'', a team of researchers led by the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture reported having mapped the bovine genome. The scientists found cattle have about 22,000 genes, and 80% of their genes are shared with humans, and they share about 1000 genes with dogs and rodents, but are not found in humans. Using this bovine "HapMap", researchers can track the differences between the breeds that affect the quality of meat and milk yields. Behavioral traits of cattle can be as Heritability, heritable as some production traits, and often, the two can be related. The heritability of fear varies markedly in cattle from low (0.1) to high (0.53); such high variation is also found in pigs and sheep, probably due to differences in the methods used. The heritability of temperament (response to isolation during handling) has been calculated as 0.36 and 0.46 for habituation to handling. Rangeland assessments show that the heritability of aggressiveness in cattle is around 0.36. Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) have been found for a range of production and behavioral characteristics for both dairy and beef cattle.
Domestication and husbandryCattle occupy a unique role in History of the world, human history, having been domesticated since at least the early neolithic age. Archaeozoological and genetic data indicate that cattle were first domesticated from wild (''Bos primigenius'') approximately 10,500 years ago. There were two major areas of domestication: one in the Near East (specifically , the and ), giving rise to the taurine line, and a second in the area that is now Pakistan, resulting in the indicine line. Modern mitochondrial DNA variation indicates the taurine line may have arisen from as few as 80 tamed in the upper reaches of Mesopotamia near the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in what is now southeastern Turkey and Dja'de el-Mughara in what is now northern Syria. Although European cattle are largely descended from the taurine lineage, gene flow from African cattle (partially of indicine origin) contributed substantial genomic components to both southern European cattle breeds and their New World descendants. A study on 134 breeds showed that modern taurine cattle originated from Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and Europe. Some researchers have suggested that African taurine cattle are derived from a third independent domestication from North African aurochsen.
Usage as moneyAs early as 9000 BC both grain and cattle were used as money or as ''barter'' (the ''Ohalo, first grain remains'' found, considered to be evidence of pre-agricultural practice date to 17,000 BC). Some evidence also exists to suggest that other animals, such as camels and goats, may have been used as currency in some parts of the world. One of the advantages of using cattle as currency is that it allows the seller to set a fixed price. It even created the standard pricing. For example, two chickens were traded for one cow as cows were deemed to be more valuable than chickens.
Modern husbandryCattle are often raised by allowing herds to Grass fed beef, graze on the grasses of large tracts of rangeland. Raising cattle in this manner allows the use of land that might be unsuitable for growing crops. The most common interactions with cattle involve daily cattle feeding, feeding, cleaning and milking. Many routine husbandry practices involve ear tagging, Livestock dehorning, dehorning, loading, Veterinary surgery, medical operations, Artificial insemination of cattle, artificial insemination, vaccinations and Cloven hoof, hoof care, as well as training for agricultural shows and preparations. Also, some Cultural identity, cultural differences occur in working with cattle; the cattle husbandry of Fula people, Fulani men rests on Ethology, behavioural techniques, whereas in Europe, cattle are controlled primarily by physical means, such as fences. Breeders use cattle husbandry to reduce Mycobacterium bovis, ''M. bovis'' infection susceptibility by selective breeding and maintaining herd health to avoid concurrent disease. Cattle are farmed for beef, veal, dairy, and leather. They are less commonly used for conservation grazing, or simply to maintain grassland for wildlife, such as in Epping Forest, England. They are often used in some of the most wild places for livestock. Depending on the breed, cattle can survive on hill grazing, heaths, marshes, moors and semidesert. Modern cattle are more commercial than older breeds and, having become more specialized, are less versatile. For this reason, many smaller farmers still favor old breeds, such as the Jersey cattle, Jersey dairy breed. In Portugal, Spain, southern France and some Latin American countries, bulls are used in the activity of bullfighting; In many other countries bullfighting is illegal. Other activities such as bull riding are seen as part of a rodeo, especially in North America. Bull-leaping, a central ritual in Bronze Age Minoan civilization, Minoan culture (see Sacred Bull), still exists in southwestern France. In modern times, cattle are also entered into Cattle judging, agricultural competitions. These competitions can involve live cattle or cattle carcases in hoof and hook events. In terms of food intake by humans, consumption of cattle is less efficient than of grain or vegetables with regard to land use, and hence cattle grazing consumes more area than such other agricultural production when raised on grains.Edward O. Wilson, ''The Future of Life'', 2003, Vintage Books, 256 pages Nonetheless, cattle and other forms of domesticated animals can sometimes help to use plant resources in areas not easily amenable to other forms of agriculture. Bulls are sometimes used as guard dog, guard animals. In occasional cases, cattle are kept as pets, and pet cows often have sweet temperaments, enjoying being petted and "kissing" (licking) their owners. But there are costs to keeping them as pets that limit how many people can practically do so; not everyone has space or facilities for a large-animal pet, and some amount of resources are needed to keep one humanely (such as pasture, hay, feed, water, and large-animal veterinary care). In addition, because livestock animals are gregarious, they need at least one companion to avoid being stressed or lonely, so keeping bovine, caprine, or ovine pets requires more than one animal. Most pet cows live on farms that have other livestock anyway, as the marginal cost of one or two more animals is then not very large. Farmers have traditionally often been averse to making pets out of livestock, on the principle that each animal must pay its way somehow if the farm is to survive financially, and also because there are sufficient opportunities for moments of petting and animal appreciation among the herd anyway, even when none of them are pets per se.
SleepThe average sleep time of a domestic cow is about 4 hours a day. Cattle do have a stay apparatus, but do not sleep standing up; they lie down to sleep deeply. In spite of the urban legend, cows cannot be tipped over by people pushing on them.
EconomyThe meat of adult cattle is known as , and that of is . Other animal parts are also used as food products, including blood, liver, kidney, heart and . Cattle also produce , and are specifically bred to produce the large quantities of milk processed and sold for human consumption. Cattle today are the basis of a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide. The international trade in beef for 2000 was over $30 billion and represented only 23% of world beef production. Approximately 300 million cattle, including dairy cattle, are slaughtered each year for food. The production of milk, which is also made into cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products, is comparable in economic size to beef production, and provides an important part of the food supply for many of the world's people. Cattle hides, used for leather to make shoes, couches and clothing, are another widespread product. Cattle remain broadly used as draft animals in many Developing country, developing countries, such as India. Cattle are also used in some sporting games, including rodeo and bullfighting.
Cattle meat productionSource: Helgi Library,, Cattle Meat Production , 12 February 2014 World Bank, FAOSTAT About half the world's meat comes from cattle.
DairyCertain breeds of cattle, such as the Holstein-Friesian, are used to produce , which can be processed into dairy products such as milk, cheese or yogurt. Dairy cattle are usually kept on specialized dairy farms designed for milk production. Most cows are milked twice per day, with milk processed at a dairy, which may be onsite at the farm or the milk may be shipped to a dairy plant for eventual sale of a dairy product. Lactation is induced in heifers and spayed cows by a combination of physical and psychological stimulation, by drugs, or by a combination of those methods. For mother cows to continue producing milk, they give birth to one calf per year. If the calf is male, it generally is slaughtered at a young age to produce . They will continue to produce milk until three weeks before birth. Over the last fifty years, dairy farming has become more intensive to increase the yield of milk produced by each cow. The Holstein-Friesian is the breed of dairy cow most common in the UK, Europe and the United States. It has been bred selectively to produce the highest yields of milk of any cow. Around 22 litres per day is average in the UK.
HidesMost cattle are not kept solely for hides, which are usually a by-product of beef production. Hides are most commonly used for leather, which can be made into a variety of products, including shoes. In 2012 India was the world's largest producer of cattle hides.
Feral cattleFeral organism, Feral cattle are defined as being 'cattle that are not domesticated or cultivated'. Populations of feral cattle are known to come from and exist in: Australia, United States of America, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, France and many islands, including New Guinea, Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii, Galapagos, Juan Fernández Islands, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Tristan da Cunha and Île Amsterdam, two islands of Kuchinoshima and Kazura Island next to Naru Island (Japan), Naru Island in Japan. Chillingham cattle is sometimes regarded as a feral breed. Aleutian wild cattles can be found on Aleutian Islands. The "Kinmen cattle" which are dominantly found on Kinmen Island, Taiwan is mostly domesticated while smaller portion of the population is believed to live in the wild due to accidental releases. Other notable examples include cattle in the vicinity of Hong Kong (in the Shing Mun Country Park, among Sai Kung District and Lantau Island and on Grass Island, Hong Kong, Grass Island), and semi-feral animals in Yangmingshan, Taiwan.
Environmental impactGut flora in cattle include methanogens that methanogenesis, produce methane as a byproduct of enteric fermentation, which cattle belch out. The same volume of atmospheric methane has a higher global warming potential than Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, atmospheric carbon dioxide. See Table 8.7. Methane belching from cattle can be reduced with genetic selection, immunization, rumen defaunation, diet modification, decreased antibiotic use, and grazing management, among others. A 2013 report from the (FAO) based on 2005 data states that the livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, 65% of which is due to cattle. The IPCC estimates that cattle and other livestock emit about 80 to 93 Megatonnes of methane per year, accounting for an estimated 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions,Steinfeld, H. et al. 2006,
HealthThe veterinary discipline dealing with cattle and cattle diseases (bovine veterinary) is called buiatrics. Veterinarians and professionals working on cattle health issues are pooled in the World Association for Buiatrics, founded in 1960. National associations and affiliates also exist. Cattle diseases were in the center of attention in the 1980s and 1990s when the Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, was of concern. Cattle might catch and develop various other diseases, like blackleg (disease), blackleg, bluetongue, foot rot too. In most states, as cattle health is not only a veterinarian issue, but also a public health issue, public health and food safety standards and farming regulations directly affect the daily work of farmers who keep cattle. However, said rules change frequently and are often debated. For instance, in the U.K., it was proposed in 2011 that milk from tuberculosis-infected cattle should be allowed to enter the food chain. Internal food safety regulations might affect a country's trade policy as well. For example, the United States has just reviewed its beef import rules according to the "mad cow standards"; while Mexico forbids the entry of cattle who are older than 30 months. Cow urine is commonly used in India for internal medical purposes. It is distilled and then consumed by patients seeking treatment for a wide variety of illnesses. At present, no conclusive medical evidence shows this has any effect. However, an Indian medicine containing cow urine has already obtained U.S. patents. Digital dermatitis is caused by the bacteria from the genus Treponema. It differs from foot rot and can appear under unsanitary conditions such as poor hygiene or inadequate hoof trimming, among other causes. It primarily affects dairy cattle and has been known to lower the quantity of milk produced, however the milk quality remains unaffected. Cattle are also susceptible to ringworm caused by the fungus, ''Trichophyton verrucosum'', a contagious skin disease which may be transferred to humans exposed to infected cows.
Effect of high stocking densityStocking density refers to the number of animals within a specified area. When stocking density reaches high levels, the behavioural needs of the animals may not be met. This can negatively influence health, welfare and production performance. The effect of overstocking in cows can have a negative effect on Dairy, milk production and reproduction rates which are two very important traits for dairy farmers. Overcrowding of cows in barns has been found to reduced feeding, resting and rumination. Although they consume the same amount of dry matter within the span of a day, they consume the food at a much more rapid rate, and this behaviour in cows can lead to further complications. The feeding behaviour of cows during their post-milking period is very important as it has been proven that the longer animals can eat after milking, the longer they will be standing up and therefore causing less contamination to the teat ends. This is necessary to reduce the risk of mastitis as infection has been shown to increase the chances of embryonic loss. Sufficient rest is important for dairy cows because it is during this period that their resting blood flow increases up to 50%, this is directly proportionate to milk production. Each additional hour of rest can be seen to translate to 2 to 3.5 more pounds of milk per cow daily. Stocking densities of anything over 120% have been shown to decrease the amount of time cows spend lying down. Cortisol is an important stress hormone; its plasma concentrations increase greatly when subjected to high levels of stress.Sjaasted O.V., Howe K., Sand O., (2010) Physiology of Domestic Animals. 3rd edition. Sunderland: Sinaver Association. Inc Increased concentration levels of cortisol have been associated with significant increases in gonadotrophin levels and lowered progestin levels. Reduction of stress is important in the reproductive state of cows as an increase in Gonadotropin, gonadotrophin and lowered progesterone levels may impinge on the Ovulation, ovulatory and Luteal phase, lutenization process and to reduce the chances of successful implantation. A high cortisol level will also stimulate the degradation of fats and proteins which may make it difficult for the animal to sustain its pregnancy if implanted successfully.
Animal welfare concernsAnimal rights activists have criticized the treatment of cattle, claiming that common practices in cattle husbandry, animal slaughter, slaughter and entertainment unnecessarily cause fear, stress, and pain. They advocate for abstaining from the consumption of cattle-related animal products and cattle-based entertainment.
Livestock industryThe following husbandry practices have been criticized by animal welfare and animal rights groups: Livestock branding, branding, castration, Livestock dehorning, dehorning, ear tagging, Nose ring (animal), nose ringing, Physical restraint, restraint, Docking (animal), tail docking, the use of veal, veal crates, and cattle prods. There are concerns that the stress and negative health impacts induced by high stocking density such as in concentrated animal feeding operations or feedlots, auctions, and during transport may be detrimental to their welfare, and has also been criticized. The Dairy cattle#Animal welfare, treatment of dairy cows faces additional criticism. To produce milk from , most calves are separated from their mothers soon after birth and fed milk replacement in order to retain the cows' milk for human consumption. Animal welfare advocates are critical of this practice, stating that this breaks the natural bond between the mother and her calf. The Veal#Animal welfare, welfare of veal calves is also a concern. In order to continue lactation, dairy cows are bred every year, usually through artificial insemination. Because of this, some individuals have posited that dairy production is based on the sexual exploitation of cows. Although the natural life expectancy of cattle could be as much as twenty years, after about five years, a cow's milk production has dropped; at which point most dairy cows are sent to slaughter.
LeatherWhile leather is often a by-product of slaughter, in some countries, such as India and Bangladesh, cows are raised primarily for their leather. These leather industries often make their cows walk long distances across borders to be killed in neighboring provinces and countries where cattle slaughter is legal. Some cows die along the long journey, and sometimes exhausted animals are abused to keep them moving. These practices have faced backlash from various animal rights groups.
SportAnimal treatment in rodeo is targeted most often at bull riding but also calf roping and steer roping, with the opposition saying that rodeos are unnecessary and cause stress, injury, and death to the animals. In Spain, the Running of the bulls#Opposition, Running of the bulls faces opposition due to the stress and injuries incurred by the bulls during the event. Bullfighting#Animal welfare, Bullfighting is opposed as a blood sport in which bulls are forced to suffer severe stress and death.
OxenOxen (singular ''ox'') are cattle trained as s. Often they are adult, males of larger breeds, although females and bulls are also used in some areas. Usually, an is over four years old due to the need for training and to allow it to grow to full size. Oxen are used for plowing, transport, hauling cargo, grain-grinding by trampling or by powering machines, irrigation by powering pumps, and wagon drawing. Oxen were commonly used to skid logs in forests, and sometimes still are, in low-impact, select-cut logging. Oxen are most often used in teams of two, paired, for light work such as ing, with additional pairs added when more power is required, sometimes up to a total of 20 or more. Oxen can be trained to respond to a teamster's signals. These signals are given by verbal commands or by noise (whip cracks). Verbal commands vary according to dialect and local tradition. Oxen can pull harder and longer than horses. Though not as fast as horses, they are less prone to injury because they are more sure-footed. Many oxen are used worldwide, especially in Developing country, developing countries. About 11.3 million draft oxen are used in sub-Saharan Africa. In India, the number of draft cattle in 1998 was estimated at 65.7 million head. About half the world's crop production is thought to depend on land preparation (such as plowing) made possible by animal traction.
Religion, traditions and folklore
Islamic traditionsThe cow is mentioned often in the Quran. The second and longest surah of the Quran is named Al-Baqara ("The Cow"). Out of the 286 verses of the surah, seven mention cows (Al Baqarah 67–73). The name of the surah derives from this passage in which Moses in Islam, Moses orders his people to sacrifice a cow in order to resurrect a man murdered by an unknown person.
Hindu traditionsVeneration of the cow has become a symbol of the identity of Hindus as a community, especially since the end of the 19th century. Slaughter of cows (including oxen, bulls and calves) is forbidden by law in several states of the Indian Union. McDonald's outlets in India do not serve any beef burgers. In Maharaja Ranjit Singh's empire of the early 19th century, the killing of a cow was punishable by death.
Other traditions* The Evangelist St. Luke is depicted as an ox in Christian art. * In Judaism, as described in Numbers 19:2, the ashes of a sacrificed unblemished red heifer that has never been yoked can be used for ritual purification of people who came into contact with a corpse. * The ox is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. See: Ox (Zodiac). * The constellation Taurus (constellation), Taurus represents a bull. * An apocryphal story has it that a cow started the Great Chicago Fire by kicking over a kerosene lamp. Michael Ahern, the reporter who created the cow story, admitted in 1893 that he had fabricated it for more colorful copy. * On 18 February 1930, Elm Farm Ollie became the first cow to fly in an airplane and also the first cow to be milked in an airplane. * The first known law requiring branding in North America was enacted on 5 February 1644, by Connecticut. It said that all cattle and pigs had to have a registered brand or earmark by 1 May 1644. * The is a traditional toy from the Aizu region of Japan that is thought to ward off illness. * The case of ''Sherwood v. Walker''—involving a supposedly barren heifer that was actually pregnant—first enunciated the concept of mutual mistake as a means of destroying the meeting of the minds in contract law. * The Fula people, Fulani of West Africa are the world's largest nomadic cattle-herders. * The Maasai people, Maasai tribe of East Africa traditionally believe their god Engai entitled them to divine rights to the ownership of all cattle on earth.
In heraldryCattle are typically represented in heraldry by the bull.
PopulationThe cattle population of Britain rose from 9.8 million in 1878 to 11.7 million in 1908, but beef consumption rose much faster. Britain became the "stud farm of the world" exporting livestock to countries where there were no indigenous cattle. In 1929 80% of the meat trade of the world was products of what were originally English breeds. There were nearly 70 million cattle in the USA by the early 1930s. For 2013, the FAO estimated global cattle numbers at 1.47 billion.FAOSTAT. [Agricultural statistics database] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. Regionally, the FAO estimate for 2013 includes: Asia 497 million; South America 350 million; Africa 307 million; Europe 122 million; North America 102 million; Central America 47 million; Oceania 40 million; and Caribbean 9 million.
See also* 1966 anti-cow slaughter agitation * :Individual cattle * Cattle Health Initiative, British Cattle Health Initiative * Bull-baiting * Bullocky * Bulls and Cows (game) * Cattle age determination * Cowboy * Intensive animal farming * List of cattle breeds * List of domesticated animals
Further reading* Bhattacharya, S. 2003