All I remember about cows when I was younger was seeing them when I drove by a field and thinking ‘wow…they’re bigger than I thought!’. I don’t even think I really knew, or wanted to know, what (or who) went into the cheeseburgers I ate when I was younger. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.
There are around 920 different breeds of cows globally. The average natural lifespan of a cow is around 20 years, but some can live 25 years or more (the oldest cow in recorded history, Big Bertha, passing away just before her 49th birthday!). A cow weighs about 1,400 pounds and produces an average of 10 tons of manure each year.
Cows have almost total 360 degree panoramic vision, can detect odours up to 5 miles away, and can hear lower and higher frequencies better than humans can. They spend about 6 hours each day eating, and 8 hours chewing cud (can you imagine???). They don’t bite the grass to eat it, but curl their tongue around it, as cows don’t have upper front teeth. The average cow will drink about 30 gallons of water (almost a bathtub full) and eat about 95 pounds of food each day.
A cow stands up and sits down about 14 times per day, and do indeed have one stomach with 4 digestive compartments. The gestation period of a pregnant cow is around 280 days, and the bond between a cow and her calf is very strong, with mothers being known to walk for miles to find their calf. Some cows will nurse their calves for up to 3 years. Unfortunately commercially farmed cows aren’t allowed this basic right, as their calves are taken away from them shortly after birth in order to take their milk for human consumption.
For a quick, informative snapshot of the dairy industry, which is actually worse in the treatment of animals than the meat industry, check out Dairy is Scary on Youtube. Warning of some brief graphic content in this video, but I believe it’s important for us as a human collective to be aware of what’s actually going on behind closed doors to these amazing sentient beings, to help make it easier for us to make changes in our own lives to help put an end to the unnecessary cruelty. As Paul McCartney said, ‘If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.’ Ok…hopping off my soapbox (for now anyways)…
Cows are also very social animals, they form large herds and ‘moo’ and use different body positions and facial expressions to communicate with each other. They are extremely curious and inquisitive, and are actually proven to get excited when they solve problems. When faced with the challenge of trying to figure out how to open a door to reach their food, their heartbeats go up, their brainwaves show excitement, and some even jump into the air.
I always like to leave you all smiling (along with learning some new things of course), so here are a couple of videos of cows being adorable and smart.