Cows are often overlooked in the animal world simply because we farm millions of them every year, but they are actually super interesting animals with complex societies and some very unique anatomy.
For example, did you know that cows have their own cow best friends, they can see in the dark, and cow herds are actually complex, egalitarian societies?
I didn’t think so!
In this article, we’ll look at 11 of the most interesting facts about cows you probably haven’t heard before, including how one cow sold for over one million dollars!
1: Cows Have Best Friends!
Cows are very social and form their own friend groups within their herds.
Researchers noticed that some cows have a preferred cow that they spend time with and take part in allogrooming with.
Cow best friends were usually calves at the same time as them, which makes sense because there is a shared bonding experience between them.
Read More: Can Cows Feel Love?
2: Cows’ Horns are Hollow!
Did you know that cows’ horns are nothing more than an outer shell? Cow horns are solid on the outside, but hollow on the inside!
As cows grow, their horns fuse with their skulls and the horn cavity connects with the cow’s sinus system and fills with blood vessels and capillaries, so they can pump blood in there to cool themselves down.
Read More: Why are Cow Horns Hollow?
3: A Single Cow Can Be Worth Over $1,000,000!
A regular cow typically costs between $700 and $2000, but some are worth far more.
In 2019 a bull named “SAV America” (SAV stands for Schaff Angus valley, the ranch the bull came from) sold for over $1.5 million dollars.
The bull was a Black Angus breed, the most popular breed for beef ranches in the US.
Read More: How Much Do Cows Cost?
4: Cows Don’t Only Eat Grass
When you picture a cow, you probably picture them in a field of grass. While it’s true that cows do eat plenty of grass, it’s by no means their entire diet.
Cows are often fed on a diet of grains and cereals, including corn, barley, and soy.
In the wild, cows can eat root vegetables, small shoots and saplings, the leaves from some trees, and even tree bark!
Read More: Everything Cows Can Eat Explained
5: Cows Look After Each Other
From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.
Cows are herd animals and they work together to make sure all members of the herd are taken care of.
- Cows take part in mutual grooming, (allogrooming) which helps cows stay clean and furthers the social bond within the herd.
- Cows moo loudly when they find food, so that the rest of their herd can enjoy it too.
- When it’s night time, cows protect each other by keeping an eye out for predators.
- When there are lots of flies, cows lie down next to each other and use their tails to swish away any flies from the other cows’ faces.
Read More: Why Do Cows Moo At Night?
6: Humans Have Been Farming Cows for 10,000 Years!
It’s thought that the first cows were domesticated by humans almost 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.
Ever since then, humans have been developing more efficient farming and breeding methods for cattle.
Read More: History of Cow Domestication
7: Not All Cows Live on Farms
Although many cows live on farms and ranches, it’s not the only place.
In Hawaii, there are wild cattle that roam the island of Hawai’i, after they escaped in the 1800s and made themselves at home in the forests.
In Switzerland, some cows are allowed to roam freely on the alpine mountain sides over the summer, before being brought in and kept indoors through the winter.
In parts of India, cows are considered sacred and are able to roam the streets!
Read More: Are There Wild Cows?
8: Cows Can See in the Dark
Cows have excellent vision, and can even see in very low light conditions due to a special extra reflective layer in their eyes.
Being able to see at night is a huge advantage for cows, since it helps them find food, locate their herd, and look out for predators.
Read More: How Cows See at Night
9: Cows Are Used For More than just Meat and Milk
Apart from meat and milk, cow byproducts are used by almost every industry imaginable.
Here are just a few examples:
- Cow guts are used for tennis rackets
- Cow fat is used for candles
- Cow heart, brains, and livers are all edible
- Cow bones are used to make gelatin
- Cow fur is used to make paintbrushes
Read More: 17 Little-Known Uses for Cow Parts
10: A Single Cow Can Weigh up to 3700lbs!
The largest cow breed in the world is the mighty Chianina.
The breed was initially bred for agriculture, pulling around heavy machinery on the Tuscan mountains where the breed originated, so it makes sense why it’s so large compared to other breeds.
A single Chinanina cow can reach up to 3,700lbs in mass (around 1700kg).
Read More: How Strong is a Bull?
11: Almost Every Part of a Cow is Edible
Almost every part of a cow is edible, even the more disgusting parts.
Cow brains, hearts, livers, and guts are all edible once they have been properly cleaned and cooked.
Cow hearts can be used to make a very tender steak, since they have no intramuscular fat. Cow intestines can be used to make chitterlings (a dish popular in the southern US) and cow brain is a delicacy in France and the former French colonies in North Africa, where it’s called cervelle de veau.
I hope you learned something you didn’t know about cows!
Cows are super intelligent and they are much more interesting than their stereotype of passive grazers.