Cattle: Wikis


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A Swiss Braunvieh cow wearing a cowbell
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bos
Species: B. primigenius
Subspecies: B. p. taurus, B. p. indicus
Binomial name
Bos primigenius
Linnaeus, 1758
Trinomial name
Bos primigenius taurus, Bos primigenius indicus

Bos taurus, Bos indicus

Cattle (colloquially cows) are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius. Cattle are raised as livestock for meat (beef and veal), as dairy animals for milk and other dairy products, and as draft animals (pulling carts, plows and the like). Other products include leather and dung for manure or fuel. In some countries, such as India, cattle are sacred. It is estimated that there are 1.3 billion cattle in the world today.[1] In 2009, cattle became the first livestock animal to have its genome mapped.[2]


Species of cattle

Cattle were originally identified by Carolus Linnaeus as three separate species. These were Bos taurus, the European or "taurine" cattle (including similar types from Africa and Asia); Bos indicus, the zebu; and the extinct Bos primigenius, the aurochs. The aurochs is ancestral to both zebu and taurine cattle. Recently these three have increasingly been grouped as one species, with Bos primigenius taurus, Bos primigenius indicus and Bos primigenius primigenius as the subspecies.[3]

Complicating the matter is the ability of cattle to interbreed with other closely related species. Hybrid individuals and even breeds exist, not only between taurine cattle and zebu but also between one or both of these and some other members of the genus Bos: yak (called a dzo or "yattle"[4]), banteng and gaur. Hybrids can also occur between taurine cattle and either species of bison, which some authors consider to be in the genus Bos as well.[5] The hybrid origin of some types may not be obvious – for example, genetic testing of the Dwarf Lulu breed, the only humpless taurine-type cattle in Nepal, found them to be a mix of taurine cattle, zebu and yak.[6] Cattle cannot successfully be hybridized with more distantly related bovines such as water buffalo or African buffalo.

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 Masovia, Poland, in about 1627.[7] Breeders have attempted to recreate cattle of similar appearance to aurochs by crossing traditional types of domesticated cattle, creating the Heck cattle breed. (See also aurochs and zebu articles.)

Cattle genome

In the April 24, 2009 edition of the journal Science, it was reported that a team of researchers led by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has mapped the bovine genome.[8] The scientists found that cattle have approximately 22,000 genes, and 80 percent of their genes are shared with humans, and they have approximately 1,000 genes they share 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.[9]


A Hereford bull

In 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 world such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United States.[10]

  • An intact (i.e., not castrated) adult male is called a bull. A wild, young, unmarked bull is known as a micky in Australia.[11] An unbranded bovine of either sex is called a "maverick" in the USA and Canada.
  • An adult female that has had a calf (or two, depending on regional usage) is a cow. A young female before she has had a calf of her own[12] and is under three years of age is called a heifer (pronounced /ˈhɛfər/, "heffer").[13] A young female that has had only one calf is occasionally called a first-calf heifer.
  • Young cattle of both sexes are called calves until they are weaned, 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[14] if between one and two years of age.[15]
  • A castrated male is called a steer in the United States, and older steers are often called bullocks in other parts of the world;[16] although in North America this term refers to a young bull. Piker bullocks are micky bulls that were caught, castrated and then later lost.[11] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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 purposes is called an ox (plural oxen); "ox" may also be used to refer to some carcase products from any adult cattle, such as ox-hide, ox-blood or ox-liver.[13] .
  • In all cattle species, a female that is the twin of a bull usually becomes an infertile partial intersex, and is a freemartin.
  • Neat (horned oxen, from which neatsfoot oil is derived), beef (young ox) and beefing (young animal fit for slaughtering) are obsolete terms, although poll, pollard or polled cattle are still terms in use for naturally hornless animals, or in some areas also for those that have been disbudded.
  • Cattle raised for human consumption are called beef cattle. Within the beef cattle industry in parts of the United States, the older term beef (plural beeves) is still used to refer to an animal of either gender. Some Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and British people use the term beast, especially for single animals when the gender is unknown.[19]
  • Cattle of certain breeds bred specifically for milk production are called milking or dairy cattle.[10]; a cow kept to provide milk for one family may be called a house cow.
  • The adjective applying to cattle in general is usually bovine. The terms "bull", "cow" and "calf" are also used by extension to denote the gender or age of other large animals, including whales, hippopotamuses, camels, elk and elephants

Singular terminology dilemma

Cattle can only be used in the plural and not in the singular: it is a plurale tantum. Thus one may refer to "three cattle" or "some cattle", but not "one cattle". There is no universally used singular form in modern English of "cattle", other than the sex- and age-specific terms such as cow, bull, steer and heifer. Historically, "ox" was a non-gender-specific term for adult cattle, but generally this is now used only for draft cattle, especially adult castrated males. The term is also incorporated into the names of other species such as the musk ox and "grunting ox" (yak), and is used in some areas to describe certain cattle products such as ox-hide and ox-tail.[20]

A Brahman calf

"Cow" has been in general use as a singular for the collective "cattle" in spite of the objections of those who say that it is a female-specific term, so that phrases such as "that cow is a bull" would be absurd from a lexicographic standpoint. However, it is easy to use when a singular is needed and the sex is not known or is irrelevant in the context of the conversation, as in "There is a cow in the road". Further, any herd of fully mature cattle in or near a pasture 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 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. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the use of "cows" as a synonym for "cattle" as an American usage.[21][Full citation needed] Merriam-Webster, a U.S. dictionary, recognizes the non-sex-specific use of "cow" as an alternate definition,[22] whereas Collins, a UK dictionary, does not.[23]

Colloquially, more general non-specific terms may denote cattle when a singular form is needed. 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.[24] 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 archaic.

Other terminology

Cattle raised for human consumption are called "beef cattle". 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 gender. Cows of certain breeds that are kept for the milk they give are called "dairy cows" or "milking cows" (formerly "milch cows" – "milch" was pronounced as "milk"). Most young male offspring of dairy cows are sold for veal, and may be referred to as veal calves.

The term "dogies" is used to describe orphaned calves in the context of ranch work in the American west, as in "Keep them dogies moving".[25] 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 "neatsfoot oil", extracted from the feet and legs of cattle), and "beefing" (young animal fit for slaughter).

An onomatopoeic term for one of the commonest sounds made by cattle is "moo", and this sound is also called lowing. There are a number of other sounds made by cattle, including calves bawling, and bulls bellowing. The bullroarer makes a sound similar to a territorial call made by bulls.[citation needed]

Word origin

Cattle did not originate as the term for bovine animals. It was borrowed from Old French catel, itself from Latin caput, head, and originally meant movable property, especially livestock of any kind.[26] The word is closely related to "chattel" (a unit of personal property) and "capital" in the economic sense.[27][28] The term replaced earlier Old English feoh "cattle, property" (cf. German Vieh, Gothic faihu).

The word cow came via Anglo-Saxon (plural ), from Common Indo-European gʷōus (genitive gʷowes) = "a bovine animal", compare Latin bos, Greek βους, Persian Gâv, Sanskrit go.[citation needed]

In older English sources such as the King James Version of the Bible, "cattle" refers to livestock, as opposed to "deer" which refers to wildlife. "Wild cattle" may refer to feral cattle or to undomesticated species of the genus Bos. Today, the modern meaning of "cattle", without any other qualifier, is usually restricted to domesticated bovines.[citation needed]


Cattle have one stomach with four compartments. They are the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment. The reticulum, the smallest compartment, is known as the "honeycomb." Cattle sometimes consume metal objects which are deposited in the reticulum and irritation from the metal objects causes hardware disease. 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".

Dairy farming and the milking of cattle - once performed largely by hand, but now usually replaced by machine - exploits the cow's unique ruminant biology.

Cattle are ruminants, meaning that they have a digestive system that allows use of otherwise indigestible foods by repeatedly regurgitating and rechewing them as "cud". The cud is then reswallowed and further digested by specialised microorganisms in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids that cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel. The microbes inside the rumen are also able to 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 carcasses continue on through the digestive tract. These carcasses are then partially digested by the cattle, allowing them to gain a high quality protein source. These features allow cattle to thrive on grasses and other vegetation.

The gestation period for a cow is nine months. A newborn calf weighs 25 to 45 kilograms (55 to 99 lb). The world record for the heaviest bull was 1,740 kilograms (3,840 lb), a Chianina named Donetto, when he was exhibited at the Arezzo show in 1955.[29] The heaviest steer was eight year old ‘Old Ben’, a Shorthorn/Hereford cross weighing in at 2,140 kilograms (4,720 lb) in 1910.[30] Steers are generally killed before reaching 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). Breeding stock usually live to about 15 years (occasionally as much as 25 years).

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 incorrect, as cattle are red-green color-blind.[31][32] The myth arose from the use of red capes in the sport of bullfighting; in fact, two different capes are used. The capote is a large, flowing cape that is magenta and yellow. The more famous muleta is the smaller, red cape, used exclusively for the final, fatal segment of the fight. It is not the color of the cape that angers the bull, but rather the movement of the fabric that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.

Although cattle cannot distinguish red from green, they do have two kinds of color receptors in the cone cells in their retinas. Thus they are dichromatic, the same as most other mammals (including dogs, cats, horses and up to ten percent of male humans). They are able to distinguish some colors, particularly blue from yellow, in the same way as most other mammals.[33][34]

Domestication and husbandry

Texas Longhorns are a U.S. breed

Cattle occupy a unique role in human history, domesticated since at least the early Neolithic. They are raised for meat (beef cattle), dairy products and hides. They are also used as draft animals and in certain sports. Some consider cattle the oldest form of wealth, and cattle raiding consequently one of the earliest forms of theft.

A hereford being inspected for ticks; cattle are often restrained or confined in Cattle crushes when given medical attention.

Cattle are often raised by allowing herds to 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 feeding, cleaning and milking. Many routine husbandry practices involve ear tagging, dehorning, loading, medical operations, vaccinations and hoof care, as well as training for agricultural shows and preparations. There are also some cultural differences in working with cattle- the cattle husbandry of Fulani men rests on behavioural techniques, whereas in Europe cattle are controlled primarily by physical means like fences.[35] Breeders use cattle husbandry to reduce M. bovis infection susceptibility by selective breeding and maintaining herd health to avoid concurrent disease.[36]

Cattle are farmed for beef, veal, dairy, leather and they are less commonly used for conservation grazing, simply to maintain grassland for wildlife – for example, 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 semi desert. Modern cows are more commercial than older breeds and, having become more specialized, are less versatile. For this reason many smaller farmers still favor old breeds, like the dairy breed of cattle Jersey.

In Portugal, Spain, Southern France and some Latin American countries, bulls are used in the activity of bullfighting; a similar activity, Jallikattu, is seen in South India; in many other countries this 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 culture (see Bull (mythology)), still exists in southwestern France. In modern times, cattle are also entered into 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.[37] 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.

Environmental impact

Cattle — especially when kept on enormous feedlots such as this one — have been named as a contributing factor in the rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

A 400-page United Nations report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that cattle farming is "responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases."[38] The production of cattle to feed and clothe humans stresses ecosystems around the world,[37] and is assessed to be one of the top three environmental problems in the world on a local to global scale.[39]

The report, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow, also surveys the environmental damage from sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world's 1.5 billion cattle are cited as the greatest adverse impact with respect to climate change as well as species extinction. The report concludes that, unless changes are made, the massive damage reckoned to be due to livestock may more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases. One of the cited changes suggests that intensification of the livestock industry may be suggested, since intensification leads to less land for a given level of production.[39]

Some microbes respire in the cattle gut by an anaerobic process known as methanogenesis (producing the gas methane). Cattle emit a large volume of methane, 95% of it through eructation or burping, not flatulence.[40] As the carbon in the methane comes from the digestion of vegetation produced by photosynthesis, its release into the air by this process would normally be considered harmless, because there is no net increase in carbon in the atmosphere — it's removed as carbon dioxide from the air by photosynthesis and returned to it as methane.[citation needed] Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, having a warming effect 23 to 50 times greater,[41][42] and according to Takahashi and Young "even a small increase in methane concentration in the atmosphere exerts a potentially significant contribution to global warming".[42] Further analysis of the methane gas produced by livestock as a contributor to the increase in greenhouse gases is provided by Weart.[43] Research is underway on methods of reducing this source of methane, by the use of dietary supplements, or treatments to reduce the proportion of methanogenetic microbes, perhaps by vaccination.[44][45]

Cattle are fed a concentrated high-corn diet which produces rapid weight gain, but this has side effects which include increased acidity in the digestive system. When improperly handled, manure and other byproducts of concentrated agriculture also have environmental consequences.[46]

Grazing by cattle at low intensities can create a favourable environment for native herbs and forbs; however, in most world regions cattle are reducing biodiversity due to overgrazing driven by food demands by an expanding human population.[47]


Oxen (singular ox) are large and heavyset breeds of Bos taurus cattle trained as draft animals. Often they are adult, castrated males. Usually an ox 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 carting. In the past, teams might have been larger, with some teams exceeding twenty animals when used for logging.

An ox is nothing more than a mature bovine with an "education." The education consists of the animal's learning to respond appropriately to the teamster's (ox driver's) signals. These signals are given by verbal commands or by noise (whip cracks) and many teamsters were known for their voices and language. In North America, the commands are (1) get up, (2) whoa, (3) back up, (4) gee (turn right) and (5) haw (turn left). Oxen must be painstakingly trained from a young age. Their teamster must provide as many as a dozen yokes of different sizes as the animals grow. A wooden yoke is fastened about the neck of each pair so that the force of draft is distributed across their shoulders. From calves, oxen are chosen with horns since the horns hold the yoke in place when the oxen lower their heads, back up, or slow down (particularly with a wheeled vehicle going downhill). Yoked oxen cannot slow a load like harnessed horses can; the load has to be controlled downhill by other means. The gait of the ox is often important to ox trainers, since the speed the animal walks should roughly match the gait of the ox driver who must work with it.

U.S. ox trainers favored larger breeds for their ability to do more work and for their intelligence. Because they are larger animals, the typical ox is the male of a breed, rather than the smaller female. Females are potentially more useful producing calves and milk.

Riding an ox in Hova, Sweden.

Oxen can pull harder and longer than horses, particularly on obstinate or almost immovable loads. This is one of the reasons that teams drag logs from forests long after horses had taken over most other draft uses in Europe and North America. Though not as fast as horses, they are less prone to injury because they are more sure-footed and do not try to jerk the load.

An "ox" is not a unique breed of bovine, nor have any "blue" oxen lived outside the folk tales surrounding Paul Bunyan, the mythical American logger. A possible exception and antecedent to this legend is the Belgian Blue breed which is known primarily for its unusual musculature and at times exhibits unusual white/blue, blue roan, or blue coloration. The unusual musculature of the breed is believed to be due to a natural mutation of the gene that codes for the protein myostatin, which is responsible for normal muscle atrophy.

Many oxen are used worldwide, especially in developing countries.

Ox is also used for various cattle products, irrespective of age, sex or training of the beast – for example, ox-blood, ox-liver, ox-kidney, ox-heart, ox-hide, and ox-tail.

Religion, traditions and folklore

Hindu tradition

In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and a full Earthly life.

Cows are venerated within the Hindu religion of India. According to Vedic scriptures they are to be treated with the same respect 'as one's mother' because of the milk they provide; "The cow is my mother" (Mahabharata)[48] They appear in numerous stories from the Puranas and Vedas. The deity Krishna was brought up in a family of cowherders, and given the name Govinda (protector of the cows). Also Shiva is traditionally said to ride on the back of a bull named Nandi. In ancient rural India every household had a few cows which provided a constant supply of milk and a few bulls that helped as draft animals. Observant Hindus, even though they might eat meat of other animals, almost always abstain from beef, and the slaughter of cows is considered a heinous sin in mainstream Orthodox Hinduism. Slaughter of cows (including oxen, bulls and calves) is forbidden by law in almost all the states of the Indian Union. Illegal slaughter of cows in India are sometimes the reason for religious riots between Hindus and Muslims. McDonalds outlets in India serve only vegetarian, chicken or fishburgers.

Other traditions

Legend of the founding of Durham Cathedral is that monks carrying the body of Saint Cuthbert were led to the location by a milk maid who had lost her dun cow, which was found resting on the spot.
  • 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 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 February 18, 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 February 5, 1644 by Connecticut. It said that all cattle and pigs have to have a registered brand or earmark by May 1, 1644.[49]
  • The akabeko (赤べこ?, red cow) is a traditional toy from the Aizu region of Japan that is thought to ward off illness.[50]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • The Maasai tribe of East Africa traditionally believe that all cows on earth are the God-given property of the Maasai

In heraldry

Cattle are typically represented in heraldry by the bull.

See also: Ciołek coat of arms


The world cattle population is estimated to be about 1.3 billion head.[1]. India is the nation with the largest number of cattle, about 281,700,000 or 28.29% of the world cattle population, followed by Brazil: 187,087,000, 18.79%; China: 139,721,000, 14.03%; the United States: 96,669,000, 9.71%; EU-27: at 87,650,000, 8.80%; Argentina: 51,062,000, 5.13%; Australia: 29,202,000, 2.93%; South Africa: 14,187,000, 1.42%; Canada: 13,945,000, 1.40% and other countries: 49,756,000 5.00%.[51] Africa has about 20,000,000 head of cattle, many of which are raised in traditional ways and serve partly as tokens of their owner's wealth.


Holstein cattle are the primary dairy breed, bred for high milk production.

Cattle today are the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. The international trade in beef for 2000 was over $30 billion and represented only 23 percent of world beef production. (Clay 2004). 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 countries, such as India.

See also


  1. ^ a b Breeds of Cattle at CATTLE TODAY
  2. ^ "Scientists Unravel Genome of the Cow". The Washington Post. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  3. ^ BZN 63(3) General Articles & Nomenclatural Notes
  4. ^ "Yattle What?", Washington Post, August 11, 2007
  5. ^ Groves, C. P., 1981. Systematic relationships in the Bovini (Artiodactyla, Bovidae). Zeitschrift für Zoologische Systematik und Evolutionsforschung, 4:264-278., quoted in Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press: "Bison". (online edition)
  6. ^ Takeda, Kumiko; et al. (April 2004). "Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Nepalese domestic dwarf cattle Lulu". Animal Science Journal (Blackwell Publishing) 75 (2): 103–110. doi:10.1111/j.1740-0929.2004.00163.x. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  7. ^ Van Vuure, C.T. 2003. De Oeros – Het spoor terug (in Dutch), Cis van Vuure, Wageningen University and Research Centrum: quoted by The Extinction Website: Bos primigenius primigenius.
  8. ^ "Cow genome unraveled in bid to improve meat, milk". AP. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  9. ^ BBC: Cow genome 'to transform farming'
  10. ^ a b Cattle Terminology
  11. ^ a b Coupe, Sheena (ed.), Frontier Country, Vol. 1, Weldon Russell Publishing, Willoughby, 1989, ISBN 1 875202 01 3
  12. ^ "Definition of heifer". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  13. ^ a b Delbridge, Arthur, The Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd ed., Macquarie Library, North Ryde, 1991
  14. ^ McIntosh, E., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, Clarendon Press, 1967
  15. ^ Warren, Andrea. "Pioneer Girl: Growing Up on the Prairie" (PDF). Lexile. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  16. ^ Delbridge, A, et al., Macquarie Dictionary, The Book Printer, Australia, 1991
  17. ^ Meat & Livestock Australia, Feedback, June/July 2008
  18. ^ Sure Ways to Lose Money on Your Cattle
  19. ^ Australians Camdraft Assoc. Retrieved on 2009-7-31
  20. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 1933: Ox (sense 1), Ox (sense 2)
  21. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford
  22. ^ Merriam Webster Online
  23. ^ Collins
  24. ^ "Critter," definition 2.
  25. ^ Beales, Terry (1999). "Keep Those Dogies Movin!" (PDF). Texas Animal Health Commission News Release. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  26. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001). "Cattle". Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  27. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001). "Chattel". Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  28. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001). "Capital". Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  29. ^ Friend, John B., Cattle of the World, Blandford Press, Dorset, 1978
  30. ^ McWhirter, Norris & Ross, Guiness Book of Records, Redwood Press, Trowbridge, 1968
  31. ^ ITLA - Longhorn_Information - handling
  32. ^
  33. ^ Jacobs, G. H., J. F.Deegan, and J. Neitz. 1998. Photopigment basis for dichromatic color vision in cows, goats and sheep. Vis. Neurosci. 15:581–584
  34. ^ Perception of Color by Cattle and its Influence on Behavior C.J.C. Phillips* and C. A. Lomas†2 J. Dairy Sci. 84:807–813
  35. ^ Lott, Dale F.; Hart, Benjamin L. (October 1979). "Applied ethology in a nomadic cattle culture". Applied Animal Ethology (Elsevier B.V.) 5 (4): 309–319. doi:10.1016/0304-3762(79)90102-0. 
  36. ^ Krebs JR, Anderson T, Clutton-Brock WT, et al. (1997) (PDF). Bovine tuberculosis in cattle and badgers: an independent scientific review. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Retrieved 2006-09-04. 
  37. ^ a b Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life, 2003, Vintage Books, 256 pages ISBN 0-679-76811-4
  38. ^ "Livestock a major threat to environment". FAO Newsroom. 
  39. ^ a b LEAD digital library: Livestock’s long shadow — Environmental issues and options
  40. ^ "Bovine belching called udderly serious gas problem." Los Angeles Times, Sunday, July 13, 2003.
  41. ^ (pie charts)
  42. ^ a b Junichi Takahashi and Bruce A. Young, Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture: Proceedings (2002) Elsevier Health Sciences, 372 pages ISBN 0-444-51012-5
  43. ^ Spencer Weart: The Discovery of Global Warming: "Other Greenhouse Gases". June 2007.
  44. ^ "Triad bid to stop belching". BBC News. 2006-01-04. Retrieved 2006-01-04. 
  45. ^ Research on use of bacteria from the stomach lining of kangaroos (who don't emit methane) to reduce methane in cattle
  46. ^ Manure Management
  47. ^ E.O. Wilson, The Future of Life, 2003, Vintage Books, 256 pages ISBN 067976811
  48. ^ Mahabharata, Book 13-Anusasana Parva, Section LXXVI
  49. ^ Kane, J.; Anzovin, S., & Podell, J. (1997). Famous First Facts. New York, NY: H. W. Wilson Company. pp. 5. ISBN 0-8242-0930-3. 
  50. ^ Madden, Thomas (May 1992). "Akabeko". OUTLOOK. Online copy accessed 18 January 2007.
  51. ^ Cattle Population By Country


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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CATTLE (Norman Fr. catel, from Late Lat. capitale, wealth or property, a word applied in the feudal system to movable property and particularly to live stock, and surviving in its wider meaning as " chattel " or " chattle "), a general term for the cows and oxen of agricultural use. For the zoological account, see Bovidae, and the subordinate articles there referred to; for details concerning dairy-farming, see Dairy.

Oxen appear to have been among the earliest of domesticated animals, as they undoubtedly were among the most important agents in the growth of early civilization. They are mentioned in the oldest written records of the Hebrew and Hindu peoples, and are figured on Egyptian monuments raised over 3000 years B.C.; while remains of domesticated specimens have been found in Swiss lake-dwellings along with the stone implements and other relics of Neolithic man. In infant communities a man's wealth was measured by the number and size of his herds - Abraham, it is said, was rich in cattle - and oxen for a long period formed, as they still do among many savage or semi-savage tribes, the favourite medium of exchange between individuals and communities. After the introduction of a metal coinage into ancient Greece, this method of exchange was commemorated by stamping the image of an ox on the new money; while the connexion between cattle and coin as symbols of wealth has left its mark on the languages of Europe, as is seen in the Latin word pecunia and the English " pecuniary," derived from pecus, cattle. The value attached to cattle in ancient times is further shown by the Bull figuring among the signs of the zodiac; in its worship by the ancient Egyptians under the title of Apis; in the veneration which has always been paid to it by the Hindus, according to whose sacred legends it was the first animal created by the three divinities directed by the supreme Deity to furnish the earth with animated beings; and in the important part it played in Greek and Roman mythology. The Hindus were not allowed to shed the blood of the ox, and the Egyptians could only do so in sacrificing to their gods. Both Hindus and Jews were forbidden to muzzle it when treading out the corn; to destroy it wantonly was a crime among the Romans, punishable with exile.


There exist in Britain four interesting remnants of what were at one time numerous enclosed herds of ancient forest cattle,' with black or red points, in parks at Chillingham, Cadzow, Vaynol (near Bangor, North Wales) and Chartley. A few of the last have been removed to Woburn. Other representatives of old stock are - a resuscitated white Welsh breed with black points, derived from white specimens born of black Welsh cows; several herds of a white polled breed with black points; a herd of the ancient Polled Suffolk Dun, an excellent milking breed; a White Belted Galloway and a White Belted Welsh breed; the old Gloucester breed at Badminton, with a white rump, tail and underline, related to the now extinct Glamorgan breed; the Shetland breed; and a few herds of Dutch cattle preserved for their superior milking powers.

The prominent breeds of cattle in the British Isles 2 comprise the Shorthorn, Lincolnshire Red Shorthorn, Hereford, Devon, South Devon, Sussex, Welsh, Longhorn, Red Polled, AberdeenAngus, Galloway, West Highland, Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey, Kerry and Dexter.

The Shorthorn, Lincolnshire Red Shorthorn, Hereford, Devon, South Devon, Sussex, Longhorn and Red Polled breeds are native to England; the Aberdeen-Angus, Galloway, Highland 1 Rev. J. Storer, The Wild Wliite Cattle of Great Britain (1879).

2 See Wallace's Farm Live Stock of Great Britain (1907), Low's Breeds of the Domestic Animals of the British Isles (1842, illustrated, and 1845), and E. V. Wilcox's Farm Animals (1907), an American work.

and Ayrshire breeds to Scotland; and the Kerry and Dexter breeds to Ireland. The Jersey and Guernsey breeds - often spoken of as Channel Islands cattle - belong to the respective islands whose names they bear, and great care is taken to keep them isolated from each other. The term Alderney is obsolete, the cattle of Alderney being mainly a type of the Guernsey breed.

Among breeds well known in ,the United States 2 and not mentioned above, the more important are the Holsteins, large black and white cattle highly valued for their abundant milk production, and the Dutch Belted breed, black with a broad white band round the body, also good milkers.

The Shorthorn' is the most widely distributed of all the breeds of cattle both at home and abroad. No census of breeds has ever been taken in the United Kingdom, but such an enumeration would show the Shorthorn far to exceed in numbers any other breed, whilst the great majority of cross-bred cattle contain Shorthorn blood. During the last quarter of the ,8th century the brothers Charles Coiling (1751-1836) and Robert Coiling (1749-1820), by careful selection and breeding, improved the cattle of the Teeswater district in the county of Durham. If the Shorthorn did not originate thus, it is indisputable that the efforts of the Collings 4 had a profound influence upon the fortunes of the breed. It is still termed the Durham breed in most parts of the world except the land of its birth, and the geographical name is far preferable, for the term " shorthorn " is applicable to a number of other breeds. Other skilled breeders turned their attention to the Shorthorns and established famous strains, the descendants of which can still be traced. By Thomas Booth, of Killerby and Warlaby in Yorkshire (1777), the " Booth " strains of Shorthorns were originated; by Thomas Bates, of Kirklevington in Yorkshire, the " Bates " families 5 (i 800) .

The Shorthorn is sometimes spoken of as the ubiquitous breed, its striking characteristic being the ease with which it adapts itself to varying conditions of soil, climate and management. It is also called the " red, white and roan." The roan colour is very popular, and dark red has its supporters, as in the case of the Lincolnshire Red Shorthorns; white is not in favour, especially abroad. The Shorthorn breed is more noted for its beef-making than for its milk-yielding properties, although the non-pedigree milking Shorthorn of the north of England is an excellent cow with dual-purpose qualifications of the first order. An effort is being made to restore milking qualities to certain strains of pedigree blood.

The culmination of what may be termed the Booth and Bates period was in the year 1875, when the sales took place of Lord Dunmore's and William Torr's herds, which realized extraordinary prices. In that black year of farming, 1879, prices were declining, and they continued to do so till within the last few years of the close of the 19th century, when there. set in a gradual revival, stimulated largely by the commercial prosperity of the country. The result of extremely high prices when line-bred animals were in fashion was a tendency to breed from all kinds of animals that were of the same tribe, without selection. A deterioration set in, which was aggravated by the overlooking of the milking properties. Shorthorn breeders came to see that change of blood was necessary. Meanwhile, for many years breeders in Aberdeenshire had been holding annual sales of young bulls and heifers from their herds. The late Amos Cruickshank began his annual sales in the 'forties, and the late W. T. Talbot-Crosbie had annual sales from his Shorthorn herd in the south-west of Ireland for a number of years. Many Aberdeen farmers emigrated to Canada, and bought Shorthorn calves in their native county to take with them. The Cruickshanks held their bull sales at that time, and many of their animals were bought by the small breeders in Canada. This continued until 1875, when the Cruickshanks had so much private demand that they discontinued their public sales. Subsequently, when Cruickshank sold his herd privately ' Shorthorn Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1822). Sec. E. J. Powell, 12 Hanover Square, London, W.

' C. J. Bates, " The Brothers Coiling," Jour. Roy. A gric. Soc. (1899).

C. J. Bates, Thomas Bates and the Kirklevington Shorthorns: a Contribution to the History of Pure Durham Cattle (Newcastle-uponTyne, 1897).

to James Nelson & Sons for exportation, the animals could not all be shipped, and W. Duthie, of Collynie, Aberdeenshire, bought some of the older cows, whilst J. Deane Willis, of Bapton Monar, Wilts, bought the yearling heifers. Duthie thereupon resumed the sales that the Cruickshanks had relinquished, his averages being Lao in 1892, about £50 in 1893-1894, and go in 1895. These prices advanced through English breeders requiring a little change of blood, and also through the increasing tendency to exhibit animals of great substance, or rather to feed animals for show. The success of this movement strengthened the demand, whilst an inquiry for his line of blood arose in the United States and Canada. A faithful contemporary history of the Shorthorn breed is to be found in Thornton's Circular, published quarterly since 1868; see also J. Sinclair, History of Shorthorn Cattle (1907); R. Bruce, Fifty Years among Shorthorns (1907); A. H. Sanders, Shorthorn Cattle (Chicago, 1901) .

The Lincolnshire Red Shorthorns are the best dual-purpose cattle - for milk and meat - that possess a pedigree record, in the United Kingdom, and their uniform cherry red colour has brought them into high favour in tropical countries for crossing with the native breeds.

The Hereford breed is maintained chiefly in Herefordshire and the adjoining counties. Whilst a full red is the general colour of the body, the Herefords are distinguished by their white face, white chest and abdomen, and white mane. The legs up to the knee or hock are also often white. As a protection against the sun in a hot climate dark spots on the eyelids or round the orbits are valuable. The horns are moderately long. Herefords, though they rear their own calves, have acquired but little fame as dairy cattle. They are very hardy, and produce beef of excellent quality. Being docile, they fatten easily and readily, and as graziers' beasts they are in high favour.

When the Bates' Shorthorn bubble burst in America about 1877, the Hereford gradually replaced the Shorthorn of the western ranches, and it is now the most numerous ranch animal in the United States and Canada. The bulls beat the bulls of all other breeds in " rustling " capacity.

In America the ranch-bred Herefords have got too small in the bone in recent years, and Shorthorns, chiefly of the Scottish type, are being introduced to increase their size by crossing. In the " feed lot " a well-bred Hereford steer feeds more quickly than either a Shorthorn or an Aberdeen-Angus.

In Queensland, Hereford cattle bred from the " Lord Wilton " strain by Robert Christison of Lammermoor have for years been triumphant as beef-producers in competition with the Shorthorn. When these are quartered in the ordinary butchers' fashion, the hind-quarters outweigh the fore-quarters, which is a reversal of the prevailing rule.

North Devons

The" Rubies of the West," as they are termed from their hue, are reared chiefly in Devon and Somerset. The colour is a whole red, its depth or richness varying with the individual, and in summer becoming mottled with darker spots. The Devons stand somewhat low; they are neat and compact, and possess admirable symmetry. Although a smaller breed than the Shorthorn or the Hereford, they weigh better than either. The horns of the female are somewhat slender, and often curve neatly upwards. Being fine-limbed, active animals, they are well adapted for grazing the poor pastures of their native hills, and they turn their food to the best account, yielding excellent beef. They have not yet attained much celebrity as mulch kine, for, though their milk is of first-class quality, with a few notable exceptions, its quantity is small. Latterly, however, the milking qualities have received more attention from breeders, whose object is to qualify the Devon as a dual-purpose breed.

The South Devon or South Hams cattle are almost restricted to that southern part of the county of Devon known as the Hams, whence they are also called " Hammers." With a somewhat ungainly head, lemon-yellow hair, yellow skin, and large but hardly handsome udder, the South Devon breed more resembles the Guernsey, with which it is supposed to be connected, than the trim-built cattle of the hills of North Devon. The cows are large, heavy milkers, and produce excellent butter. They are rarely seen outside their locality except when they appear in the showyards.

The Sussex breed resembles the North Devon in many respects, but it is bigger, less refined in appearance, less graceful in outline, and of a deeper brown-chestnut colour than the " dainty Devon," as the latter may well be called when compared with them. As a hardy race, capable of thriving on poor rough pastures, the Sussex are highly valued in their native districts, where they were rapidly improved before the end of the 19th century. They are essentially a beef-producing breed, the cows having little reputation as milkers. By stall-feeding they can be ripened for the butcher at an early age. Sussex cattle are said to " die well," that is, to yield a large proportion of meat in the best parts of the carcase.

In the Welsh breed of cattle black is the prevailing colour, and the horns are fairly long. They do not mature very rapidly, but some of them grow eventually into great ponderous beasts, and their beef is of prime quality. The cows often possess considerable reputation as milkers. As graziers' beasts Welsh cattle are well known in the midland counties of England, where, under the name of " Welsh runts," large herds of bullocks are fattened on the pastures or " topped up " in the yards in winter.

All the remaining strains of Welsh cattle were recognized as one breed in 1904, when the Welsh Black Cattle Society united into one register the Herd Books of North and South Wales.

The Longhorn or " Dishley " breed of cattle is one of the most interesting historically. It was with Longhorns that Robert Bakewell, of Dishley, Leicestershire (1726-1795), showed his remarkable skill as an improver of cattle in the middle of the 18th century.' At one period Longhorns spread widely over England and Ireland, but, as the Shorthorns extended their domain, the Longhorns made way for them. They are big, rather clumsy animals, with long drooping horns, which are very objectionable in these days of cattle transport by rail and sea. They are slow in coming to maturity, but are very hardy. The bullocks feed up to heavy weights, and the cows are fair milkers. No lover of cattle can view these quaint creatures without a feeling of satisfaction that the efforts made to resuscitate a breed which has many useful qualities to commend it have been successful, and that the extinction which threatened it in the 'eighties of last century is no longer imminent. In 1907 there were twenty-two Longhorn herds containing about four hundred registered cattle located mainly in the English midlands and Man.

The Red Poll breed, though old, has only come into prominence within recent years. They were known as the East Anglian Polls, and later as the Norfolk and Suffolk Polled cattle, being confined chiefly to these two counties. They are symmetrically built, of medium size, and of uniformly red colour. They have a tuft of hair on the poll. As dairy cattle, they are noted for the length of the period during which they continue in milk. Not less are they valued as beef-producers, and, as they are hardy and docile, they fatten readily and mature fairly early. Hence, like the Lincolnshire Red Shorthorn, they may claim to be a dual-purpose breed. As beef cattle they are always seen to advantage at the Norwich Christmas cattle show, held annually in November.

The Aberdeen-Angus, a polled, black breed, the cows of which are often termed " Doddies," belongs to Aberdeenshire and adjacent parts of Scotland, but many herds are maintained in England and some in Ireland. The steers and heifers fed for the butcher attain great weight, make first-class show beasts, and yield beef of excellent quality. The cross between the Shorthorn and the Aberdeen-Angus is a favourite in the meat markets and at fat-stock competitions.

The Galloways are named from the district, Kirkcudbright and Wigtonshire, in the south-west of Scotland, to which they are native. Like the Aberdeen-Angus cattle, they are hornless, and normally of a black colour. But, with a thicker hide and shaggy hair, suited to a wet climate, they have a coarser appearance than the Aberdeen-Angus, the product of a less humid region, though 1 Housman, " Robert Bakewell," Jour. Roy. Agric. Soc. (1894). Shorthorn Bull. Devon Bull.

Hereford Bull. South Devon Bull. Breeds Of English Cattle.



Welsh Bull Sussex Bull Breeds Of English And Welsh Cattle.

Aberdeen-Angus Bull. Galloway Bull.

Ayrshire Cow. Highland Bull. Breeds Of Scotch Cattle.

(Frori photograph by F. Babbage.) Dexter Bull. Kerry Cow.

Guernsey Cow. Jersey Cow. Breeds Of Irish And Channel Islands Cattle.

(From photographs by F. Babbage.) The comparative sizes of the animals are indicated by the scale of reproduction of the photographs.

it approaches the latter in size. Galloways yield superior beef, but mature less rapidly than the Aberdeen-Angus. They make admirable beasts for the grazier, and the cross between the Galloway and the white Shorthorn bull, known as a " Blue Grey," is much sought after by the grazier and the butcher.

The West Highland or Kyloe breed are perhaps the most hardy and picturesque of British cattle. Their home is amidst the wild romantic scenery of the Highlands and the Western Isles of Scotland, though Highland bullocks with long, spreading curved horns may be seen in English parks. They have not made much progress towards early maturity, but their slowly ripened beef is of the choicest quality. The colour of their thick shaggy hair varies from white and light dun to tawny yellow of many shades, and black.

The Ayrshires are the dairy breed of Scotland, where they have considerably overstepped the limits of the humid western county whence they take their name. They are usually of a white and brown colour, the patches being well defined. The neat, shapely, upstanding horns are characteristic. The Ayrshires are under medium size and move gracefully, and the females display the wedge-shape typical of dairy cows. They are a hardy breed, and, even from poor pastures, give good yields of milk, especially useful for cheese-making purposes. The milking powers of the breed are being improved under a system of milk-testing and records supported by the Highland and Agricultural Society.

The Jerseys are graceful, deer-like cattle, whose home is in the island of Jersey, where, by means of stringent regulations against the importation of cattle, the breed has been kept pure for many generations. As its milk is especially rich in fat (so rich that it requires to be diluted with a little water before it can be safely fed to calves), the Jersey has attained a wide reputation as a butter-producing breed. It is a great favourite in England, where many pure-bred herds exist. The colours most preferred are " whole " fawns of many shades. The light silver-grey, which was in high repute in England in the early 'seventies of the 19th century, is out of favour. Browns and brindles are rarely seen. The grey zone surrounding the black muzzle gives the appearance designated " mealy-mouthed." The horns are short, and generally artificially curved inwards; the bones are fine. The best mulch cows have a yellowish circle round the eye, and the skin at the extremity of the tail is of a deep yellow, almost orange colour. The cows are gentle and docile when reared in close contact with human beings, but the bulls, despite their small size, are often fierce.

Guernsey cattle are native to the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm. They are kept pure by importation restrictions. Herds of pure-bred Guernseys also exist in the Isle of Wight and in various counties of England and Scotland. They have not the refined and elegant appearance of the Jerseys, which, however, they exceed in size. They are usually of a rich yellowish-brown colour, patched with white, in some cases their colour almost meriting the appellation of " orange and lemon." The yellow colour inside the ears is a point always looked for by judges. The cows, large-bellied and narrow in front, are truly wedgeshaped, the greatly developed udder adding to the expanse of the hinder part of the body. They yield an abundance of milk, rich in fat, and are excellent butter-producers. The horns are yellow at the base, curved, and not coarse. The nose is fleshcoloured and free from black markings.

The Canadian breed, black with a narrow brown stripe down the back and a light ring round the muzzle, are descended from old Brittany cattle imported into Canada by French settlers three hundred years ago, and are in consequence related to the Channel Islands cattle. They are remarkably hardy and good milkers, and it is claimed they produce butter fat at 2 c. a lb less cost than any other breed.

The Kerry is a breed of small black cattle belonging to the south-west of Ireland, whence they have spread into many parts, not only of their native land, but of England as well. Although they are able to subsist on the roughest and scantiest of fare, and are exceedingly hardy, the cows are, nevertheless, excellent milkers, and have acquired celebrity as a dairy breed. The colour is black, but the cows sometimes have a little white on the udder. The horns are white, with black tips, and are turned upwards. The Kerry is active and graceful, long and lithe in body, and light-limbed. On the rich pastures of England it has increased considerably in size.

The Dexter breed is reputed to take its name from one Dexter, agent of Maude, Lord Hawarden, who is credited with having established it by selection and breeding from the best mountain types of the Kerry. Until recently it was called the DexterKerry. It is smaller and more compact than the Kerry, shorter in the leg, and intoed before and behind. Whilst valuable as a beef-making animal, it is equally noted for its milk-producing capacity. Black is the usual colour, but red is also recognized, with, in either case, a little white. When of a red colour, the appearance of the animal has been aptly compared to that of a grand Shorthorn viewed through the wrong end of a telescope. The Kerry and the Dexter are readily distinguishable. The Kerry has a gay, light, deer-like head and horn, light limbs and thin skin. The Dexter has coarser limbs, a square body, flat back, thick shoulder, short neck, and head and horn set on low.

A herd of Dexter-Shorthorns was founded by Major Barton at Straffan, Ireland, in 1860, in which prominent characteristics of the two breeds have been permanently blended so that they breed true to type.

As milk-producers, and therefore as dairy cattle, certain strains of the Shorthorn (registered as well as non-pedigree), the Lincolnshire Red Shorthorn, South Devon, Longhorn, Red Polled, Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey, Kerry and Dexter breeds have acquired eminence. Such breeds as the Shorthorn, Lincolnshire Red Shorthorn, South Devon, Welsh, Red Polled and Dexter are claimed as useful beef-makers as well as milk-producers, and are classified as dual-purpose animals. The others belong to the beef-producers. As regards colour, red is characteristic of the Lincolnshire Shorthorn, the Hereford, Devon, Sussex and Red Polled. Black is the dominating colour of the Welsh, Aberdeen-Angus, Galloway, Kerry and Dexter. A yellowish hue is seen in the West Highland, Guernsey and South Devon breeds. Various shades of fawn colour are usual in Jersey cattle and also appear among Highlanders. The Herefords, though with red bodies, have white faces, manes, and dewlaps, whilst white prevails to a greater or less extent in the Shorthorn, Longhorn and Ayrshire breeds. The Shorthorn breed is exceedingly variable in colour; pure-bred specimens may be red, or white, or roan, or may be marked with two or more of these colours, the roan resulting from a blending of the white and red. Black is not seen in a pure-bred Shorthorn. The biggest and heaviest cattle come from the beef-making breeds, and are often cross-bred. Very large or heavy beasts, if pure-bred, usually belong to one or other of the Shorthorn, Hereford, Sussex, Welsh, West Highland, Aberdeen-Angus and Galloway breeds. The Devon, Red Polled and Guernsey are medium-sized cattle; the Ayrshires are smaller, although relatively the bullocks grow larger than bulls or cows. The Jerseys are small, graceful cattle, but the smaller type of Kerries, the Dexters and the Shetlanders furnish the smallest cattle of the British Isles.

See generally the Herd Books of the various breed societies.

(W. FR.; R. W.) Rearing and Feeding. 1 - A calf at birth scales from one-twelfth to one-fourteenth the weight of the dam. A sucking calf of one of the large breeds should gain 3 lb per day for the first month, 2.5 lb for the second, and 2 lb during the later calf period. Colostrum, or first-day milk after calving, contains more than five times the albuminoid compounds found in average cows' milk. In the course of three or four days it gradually becomes normal in composition, although the peculiar flavour remains a few days longer. Nature has specially prepared it for the young 1 See E. Wolff, Farm Foods, by H. H. Cousins (1895); A. D. Hall, Rothamsted Experiments (1905); R. Warington, Chemistry of the Farm (15th ed., 1902); W. A. Henry, Feeds and Feeding (1907); H. W. Mumford, Beef Production (1907); H. P. Armsby, Animal Nutrition (2nd ed., 1906); T. Shaw, Animal Breeding (1903); R. Wallace, Farm Live Stock of Great Britain (4th ed., 1907).

calf with extremely nourishing and also laxative properties, and it is of practically no value for any other purpose. Normal cows' milk has an albuminoid ratio slightly narrower than 4 -colostrum i: 71. [The ratio is arrived at by adding to the percentage of milk-sugar, possessing about the food equivalent of starch, the fat multiplied by 2.268, and dividing by the total albuminoids-all digestible.] Common nutrient ratios for older animals are stated in the following table of food standards by Dr Emil Wolff Digestible albuminoid nitrogen is the scarcest and consequently the costliest ingredient in food-stuffs, but, since the introduction of vegetable proteid made by Mitchell's process from the castor bean, an easy and inexpensive means of balancing cattle food ratios is available. By this means the manurial value of the excrement is increased. The calculations necessary in arriving at a ratio are simplified by the employment of Jeffers's calculator (Plainsboro, N. J.).

There are three common methods of rearing calves. (1) The calf sucks its mother or foster-mother. This is the natural method and the best for the show-yard and for early fattening purposes; but it is the most expensive, and the calves, if not handled, grow up wild and dangerous. Store stock may be also raised by putting two calves to one cow and weaning at three months old; a second pair in turn yielding place to a single calf. (2) Full milk from the cow at about 90° F. is given alone until the latter part of the milk period; then the calf is trained to eat supplementary foods to preserve the calf-fat after weaning. A large calf at first receives daily three quarts of milk at three meals. The amount is increased to 2 gallons by the end of the fourth week, and to 21 gallons at 3 months, when gradual weaning begins. Linseed cake meal is specially suitable for such calves. (3) The calf receives full milk from the mother for one to two weeks, or better, for three to four weeks; then it is slowly transferred to fortified separated milk or milk substitutes. Cod-liver oil, 2 oz. daily, is a good substitute for butter fat. In America cotton-seed oil, ? oz. to the quart of milk, or an equivalent of oleomargarine heated to F. and churned with separated milk, has produced a live-weight-increase of 2 lb daily. Linseed simmered to a jelly and added to separated milk gives good results. Moderate amounts are easily digested. Oatmeal or maize meal containing io % of linseed meal does well, later, at less cost. Milk substitutes and calf meals require close attention in preparation, and would not fetch the prices they do if feeders possessed the technical knowledge necessary to select and mix common foods. Ground cake or linseed meal is, after a time, better given dry than cooked, being then better masticated and not so liable to produce indigestion.

Grass or fine hay in racks is provided when the calf can chew the cud. As cattle get older, live-weight-increase grows less. Smithfield weights 1 show that a good bullock up to a year old will increase 2 lb daily, a two-year-old 14 lb, and a three-year-old a little over 11 lb.

Cattle feeding on a farm consume crude produce that is inconvenient to market, and make farmyard manure; but there is frequently no profit left. To secure the balance on the right 1 E. J. Powell, History of the Smithfield Club from 1798 to 1900 (1902).

side the inlaid price per live cwt. requires to be 5s. less than the sale price-say 32s. per cwt. for lean cattle, and 37s. per cwt. for the animal when sold fat and capable of producing 60% of dressed beef. The ordinary animal yields only about 57%. A well-bred fattening bullock begins with 2 lb of cake and meal per day, increasing to 8 lb at the end of five months (6 lb on an average), and receives 1cwt. of roots and 12 lb of straw; at an average cost of about 4s. 3d. per imperial stone or 50s. per cwt. of dressed carcase. Heifers feed faster than bullocks, and age tells on the rate at which an animal will mature: a three-yearold will develop into prime beef more quickly and easily than a two-year-old. It is difficult to produce " baby beef " at a profit, and it can only be done with picked animals of the best fleshproducing breeds, which cannot be bought at a price per cwt. below the finished sale price, for animals producing baby beef must from start to finish (under two years old) be at all times fit to go to the fat market. It is true that a very young animal can give a better account of food than an older one, but this advantage is counterbalanced by the tendency to grow rather than to fatten. (See also Agriculture.) In cold and stormy districts cattle thrive best in covered courts, but in a mild climate they do equally well in open yards with shelter-sheds. The more air they get the less liable they are to tuberculosis-example Lincolnshire and the drier south-eastern counties. The ideal method of house-feeding cattle is singly in boxes io ft. square, where they are undisturbed, and where the best manure is made because it is not washed by rain.

On the finest British grazing lands two lots of cattle are fed in one season. The first is finished early in July, having, without artificial feeding, laid on eight to nine stones of beef. The second lot requires three or four pounds of undecorticated cotton cake each towards the end of September and in October when grass begins to fail. (R. W.)

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From Middle English catel < Anglo-Norman catel (personal property) < Mediaeval Latin capitale from capitalis (of the head), from caput 'head' + -alis '-al'.




countable and uncountable; plural cattle

cattle (countable and uncountable; plural cattle) (usually used as plural)

  1. Domesticated bovine animals (cows, bulls, steers etc).
    Do you want to raise cattle?
  2. Certain other livestock, such as sheep, pigs or horses.
  3. (pejorative, figuratively) People who resemble domesticated bovine animals in behavior or destiny.
    • 1961, Gerald Hanley, The Journey Homeward[1], page 155:
      "I always knew it, but I always denied it, because I'm one of them, and I'm like them." ¶"We're just cattle," the Prison Governor said, relieved now.
  4. (obsolete, English law, sometimes countable) chattel
    goods and cattle
    • 1552, Parliament of England, An Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer, and Service in the Church, and Administration of the Sacraments[2]:
      That then every person so offending and convict, shall for his third offence, forfeit to our Sovereign Lady the Queen, all his goods and cattles, and shall suffer imprisonment during his life.
    • 1684, Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, in New England, published 1856:
      1684 July. Mistris Dorothy Gray, Adminnestratrix of the Goods and Cattles of Mr Edward Gray, late of Plymouth, deceased, []
  5. (uncountable, rare) Beef.
    I hate eating cattle.

Usage notes

There is no singular form for "cattle", and the words for the particular types of cattle are used: "bull", "calf" etc.

  • There are five cows and a calf in that herd of cattle.

Where the type is unknown, "cow" is often used (although properly a cow is only an adult female).

  • Is that a cow in the road?

When used as an uncountable noun, the phrase "head of cattle" is used for countable quantities of cattle.

  • He sold 50 head of cattle last year.

However, "cattle" is often used as an ordinary plural rather than as as an uncountable noun.

  • I have fifteen cattle.

In some circumstances the uncountable form is not used.

  • How many cattle? (not how much cattle?).


  • (Scientific): Bos

Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

abounded in the Holy Land. To the rearing and management of them the inhabitants chiefly devoted themselves (Deut 8:13; 12:21; 1Sam 11:5; 12:3; Ps 14414; Jer 3:24). They may be classified as,

  1. Neat cattle. Many hundreds of these were yearly consumed in sacrifices or used for food. The finest herds were found in Bashan, beyond Jordan (Num 32:4). Large herds also pastured on the wide fertile plains of Sharon. They were yoked to the plough (1 Kg 19:19), and were employed for carrying burdens (1Chr 12:40). They were driven with a pointed rod (Jdg 3:31) or goad (q.v.).
    According to the Mosaic law, the mouths of cattle employed for the threshing-floor were not to be muzzled, so as to prevent them from eating of the provender over which they trampled (Deut 25:4). Whosoever stole and sold or slaughtered an ox must give five in satisfaction (Ex 22:1); but if it was found alive in the possession of him who stole it, he was required to make double restitution only (22:4). If an ox went astray, whoever found it was required to bring it back to its owner (23:4; Deut 22:1, 4). An ox and an ass could not be yoked together in the plough (Deut 22:10).
  2. Small cattle. Next to herds of neat cattle, sheep formed the most important of the possessions of the inhabitants of Palestine (Gen 12:16; 13:5; 26:14; 21:27; 29:2, 3). They are frequently mentioned among the booty taken in war (Num 31:32; Josh 6:21; 1Sam 14:32; 15:3). There were many who were owners of large flocks (1Sam 25:2; 2 Sam 12:2, comp. Job 1:3). Kings also had shepherds "over their flocks" (1Chr 27:31), from which they derived a large portion of their revenue (2 Sam 17:29; 1Chr 12:40). The districts most famous for their flocks of sheep were the plain of Sharon (Isa. 65: 10), Mount Carmel (Mic 7:14), Bashan and Gilead (Mic 7:14). In patriarchal times the flocks of sheep were sometimes tended by the daughters of the owners. Thus Rachel, the daughter of Laban, kept her father's sheep (Gen 29:9); as also Zipporah and her six sisters had charge of their father Jethro's flocks (Ex 2:16). Sometimes they were kept by hired shepherds (Jn 10:12), and sometimes by the sons of the family (1Sam 16:11; 17:15). The keepers so familiarized their sheep with their voices that they knew them, and followed them at their call. Sheep, but more especially rams and lambs, were frequently offered in sacrifice. The shearing of sheep was a great festive occasion (1Sam 25:4; 2 Sam 13:23). They were folded at night, and guarded by their keepers against the attacks of the lion (Mic 5:8), the bear (1Sam 17:34), and the wolf (Mt 10:16; Jn 10:12). They were liable to wander over the wide pastures and go astray (Ps 119176; Isa 53:6; Hos 4:16; Mt 18:12).

Goats also formed a part of the pastoral wealth of Palestine (Gen 15:9; 32:14; 37:31). They were used both for sacrifice and for food (Deut 14:4), especially the young males (Gen 27:9, 14, 17; Jdg 6:19; 13:15; 1Sam 16:20). Goat's hair was used for making tent cloth (Ex 26:7; 36:14), and for mattresses and bedding (1Sam 19:13, 16). (See GOAT.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Facts about CattleRDF feed

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|250px|Dairy cattle grazing (eating grass) in a field.]]

Cattle are animals which are mammals and belong to the genus Bos. The word cattle is in the plural, meaning "some cattle" or "many cattle". There is no word in English that means "one cattle".[1] The usual way is to say "cow" or "bull" or "ox".

Cattle are large grass-eating animals with hoofs that are divided into two parts. They have horns which are a simple shape, usually curved upwards but sometimes down. They usually stay together in groups called herds. One male, called a bull will usually have a number of female cows in a herd. The cows give birth to one calf a year. The calves have long strong legs and can walk a few minutes after they are born, so they can follow the herd.

Cattle are native to most tropical and subtropical parts of the world except Australia and New Zealand. Cattle have been domesticated for about 7,000 years. They are used for milk, meat, transport and power.


Word use

[[File:|thumb|200px|Watusi cattle are herded in Africa.]] The word cattle has been used in English for about 1,000 years and the meaning has changed. In books that are written in Old English, such as the King James Version of the Bible, the word is used for all sorts of farm animals, including horses, sheep and goats. The word comes from the Old French word, chattels, meaning all the things that a person owns.

The word cattle is used for some wild animals as well as for domesticated cattle. Wild cattle include the Water Buffalo from South East Asia, the Musk Ox andYak from Central Asia, the Bison of North America and Europe and the African Buffalo. The last Aurochs, wild cattle of Europe, were killed in Masovia, Poland in 1627.

  • This article uses the word cattle in the modern way.
  • This article is about the domestic farm animal, and not the wild cattle which are still found in some parts of the world.
  • The word "head" is used by farmers when they count the number of cattle that they own. A farmer might say "My land runs 5,000 head of cattle." A "head" means one, but the term "one head of cattle" is not usually used. It is easier to say "one cow".
Danish Red cows and calves.

Cattle vocabulary

A male is called a bull. A female that has had a baby is called a cow. A baby is called a calf. Two or more babies are calves. A young female that has not had a calf is called a heifer, (pronounced "heffer").

Because many cows will form a herd with one bull, most male cattle are used for meat. They are castrated by removing the testicles. A castrated male is called a steer or an ox. Steer is the usual word for beef cattle. Ox is the usual word for working cattle.

The adjective that is used to describe something that is like a cow or an ox is "bovine".

The words "cow", "bull" and "calf" are also used to describe some other large animals that are not related to cattle, such as elephants, moose and whales.


Highland Cattle are adapted to cold weather.

Cattle can be found across the world, from snowy Scotland to the dry inland of Australia. Different types of cattle are suited to different environments. Their large wide hoofs are good in both wet areas and dry grassland. Their hairy coat grows much longer in the winter and has an extra fluffy layer to hold the warmth. Most cattle do not sweat, but their wet nose is a cooling system.

Cattle can make a range of noises, usually a gentle "Moo!" When they are angry or upset, they can bellow loudly.

Cattle are grass-eating animals. They are ruminants which means that they have more than one stomach and they digest their food very well. Cattle have very strong tongues and strong lower front teeth that help them to eat grass. After a cow has eaten and is resting, they return the grass from their stomach to their mouth and grind it with their very large back teeth to get all the nourishment from it. This is called "chewing the cud". Other ruminants like deer also do this. It means that cattle do not need as much food as horses, even though they are about the same size.

Young cattle sometimes fight to sort out the order in their herd.

Female cattle, or cows, have large breasts called "udders" which are under the belly and partly between the back legs. The udder is divided into four parts, each with a large "teat" for feeding the calf. Cows usually make more milk than they need for one calf. If the milk is regularly taken from the cow, be hand or by machine, the cow makes more milk. Cows that have a lot of milk are used as dairy cows.

Male cattle, or bulls, can be fierce and dangerous. In the wild, they fight over the herds of cows and use their horns to gore each other. They also protect the herds from other animals such as wolves, jackals and lions. On farms, bulls are usually quieter and can be led by their owners, but they can be aggressive with other bulls and with strangers who might go near the herd.

For this reason, most male cattle are either sent to the butcher while they are still calves or are castrated so that they are not likely to fight. Young steers, or castrated males, can be safely kept together in herds until they are sent to the market for meat.

Uses of cattle

File:Cambodia buffaloes in paddy
Water Buffalo ploughing a rice paddy in Cambodia.

Ever since people started using cattle in Prehistoric times, cattle have been seen as a sign of wealth. In many countries today, particularly in Africa and Asia, a person's wealth is judged by the number of cattle they owned.

Cattle are very useful animals. Their flesh can be eaten as meat. Their milk can be drunk and turned into cheese and yogurt. Their skin can be used as leather. They can pull carts and plows. They can make the power to turn flour mills or pump water. The food that they eat is not expensive.

A prize-winning Ayrshire dairy cow at a show in England.

Dairy cattle

Dairy cattle are kept specially for milking. Herds of cows are kept and are regularly mated with a bull, so that they produce calves. This keeps the milk supply going.

Cows can be milked by hand, but in many countries where there are large dairies, the cows are milked by milking machine. The milk is collected in stainless steel containers and is taken by truck to the Milk Factory to be treated so that any germs are killed. The milk is also separated to remove most of the cream. It is then put into bottles or cartons to be sold. Some milk is turned into cheese and some is turned into yogurt. The cream is also put into bottles and sold. Milk factories often make ice cream as well.

Large dairy herds are usually kept in places where there is a good supply of grass and the fields are quite small. This is because the cows are brought in for milking every day.

[[File:|thumb|200px|Friesians are well-known dairy cattle.]] Many types of cattle are used for milk. They include:-

  • the Holstein-Friesian, which is black and white with short inward-curving horns.
  • the Ayshire, which is very large, red and white with long up-curving horns.
  • the Australian Illawarra Shorthorn, which is usually red with short inward-curving horns.
  • the Jersey, which is small and dun-colored with black legs and eye patches. They do not give as much milk as the other breeds, but it is famous for the amount of cream.
  • the Guernsey, which is pale red and white, and also give a lot of cream.
  • the Swiss, which is short-legged and grey, and famous for the sweetness of its milk.
In many places owning cattle is a sign of wealth.

Beef cattle

Beef cattle are kept specifically to provide meat. Steers are the best for this purpose because they can be kept in herds, without fighting each other. The cows of beef cattle are used to raise calves for meat. They are not usually used for milk, although some types of cattle, such as the Red Devon are used for both.

Beef cattle can be let loose to graze over a big area, because they do not have to be brought in every day like dairy cattle. The biggest farms in the world are cattle stations in Australia, ranches in North America and ranchos in Latin America where they run beef cattle.

Until the mid 20th century, beef cattle were often sent to market on the hoof. Cowboys or drovers would herd the cattle along the roads to the cattle markets in big towns. In Australia, sometimes the cattle would travel for hundreds of miles along roads known as Travelling Stock Routes. Big herds would have thousands of head of cattle. (Cattle are counted by the "head".) Nowadays cattle are usually sent to the market in huge lorries known as road-trains.

[[File:|thumb|200px|A Symonds bull used for breeding beef cattle.]] The meat of a young beast is called veal and from an older beast, beef. Meat that is cut into flat pieces for frying or grilling is called steak. Every part of a beast can be used. The skin becomes leather. The meat which is not used by humans becomes pet food and everything that is left over becomes garden fertilizer.

Types of cattle that are used for beef:-

  • Hereford, which are large red and white cattle, with white faces and spreading horns. Some Herefords have no horns.
  • Aberdeen Angus, which are small black cattle. Hereford heifers are often mated with an Angus bull so that their first calf is small and easy to give birth to.
  • Brahmans are very large cattle originating in Asia. Unlike most cattle they have humps to store food and can sweat in hot weather. Brahmans are often crossed with other breeds to give Brahfords and Brangus.
Brahman steers with a load of sugar cane in India.


Oxen are cattle trained as work animals. The word "ox" is used to describe just one. They are usually castrated males (steers), but in many poor countries, dairy cows are also used for work.

Usually, an ox is over four years old and grown to full size when it begins to work. Oxen are used for pulling plows and wagons, for hauling heavy loads like logs, for grinding grain by trampling it or for powering different machines such as mills and irrigation pumps.

Texas Longhorn steers were used to pull heavy wagons in the USA.

Oxen are most often used in teams of two for light work such as plowing. In past days, very large teams of fourteen to twenty oxen were used for heavy work such as logging. The oxen are put into pairs and each pair must work together. A wooden yoke is put about the neck of each pair, so that the work is shared across their shoulders. Oxen are chosen from calves with horns, since the horns hold the yoke in place when the oxen lower their heads, back up or slow down.

Oxen must be trained from a young age. The owner must make or buy as many as a dozen yokes of different sizes as the animals grow. Ox teams are steered by shouted commands, whistles or the noise of a whip crack. Men who drove ox teams were called teamsters in America, wagoners in Britain, or in Australia, bullockies. Many bullockies and teamsters were famous for their voices and for their foul language.

Oxen can pull harder and longer than horses, especially for very large loads. They are not as fast as horses, but they are less often injured. Many oxen are still in use all over the world, especially in poor countries.


File:In Tibet, yaks are decorated and honored by the families they are part
In Tibet, the Yaks are treated with honour by their owners.
  • According to Hinduism, the cow is holy, and should not be eaten: "the cow is our Mother, for she gives us her milk." See: sacred cow.
  • In Portugal, Spain and some Latin American countries, bulls are used for the sport of bullfighting. In many other countries, this is illegal.
  • A mistaken idea about cattle (mostly bulls) is that they become angry when they see the color red]. This is not correct. Cattle cannot see tell red from greencolors, and probably have limited other color vision. This mistake comes from Matadors (bull-fighters), that have always used red cloth to make bulls attack, in Spanish-speaking culture. But really, red is only used as a tradition. Also, the color red makes people excited by making them think of blood. The bull just gets angry at the waving motion of the cape. If you wave a cape of any color at a bull, it will get angry.
  • 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 represents a bull.

Some close-up pictures


Other pages

Other websites

Look up Bos taurus in Wikispecies, a directory of species
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