Cow Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Cow Definition

A cow is a domesticated ungulate mammal that is commonly raised as livestock for its meat, milk, and other products. Cows are large animals with a typical body shape characterized by a broad head, a sturdy body, and four legs. They belong to the bovine family and are known scientifically as Bos taurus.

 Cow General Characteristics & Facts


Cow breeds are different worldwide with their distinct characteristics. There are some popular breeds for cows such as Angus, Holstein, Hereford, Jersey, and Brahman.

Milk Production

Cows are primarily raised for their milk. The milk produced by cows is a rich source of nutrients and is used to make various dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt.

Beef Production

Cows are known for their meat. Meat is consumed in various forms and is a significant part of many cuisines around the world.


Cows are herbivorous animals, which means their diet consists mainly of plant materials. They graze on grass and other vegetation, using their specialized digestive system, which allows them to extract nutrients from plant cellulose.


Cows are classified as ruminants because of their unique digestive system. They have a four-chambered stomach that allows them to efficiently digest and extract nutrients from tough plant fibers. The process involves regurgitating partially digested food (cud) and re-chewing it to break it further down.

Social Animal

They are social animals. Cows live in herds. They establish social hierarchies within the group, and individuals communicate with each other through various vocalizations, body language, and physical contact.

Importance in Agriculture

Cows play a crucial role in agriculture and are essential for food production. They provide milk, meat, leather, and other by-products that are utilized by humans for various purposes.

Cultural Significance

Cows hold cultural and religious significance in many societies. In some cultures, cows are considered sacred animals and are treated with reverence and respect.

Environmental Impact

The global cattle industry has an environmental impact due to factors such as deforestation for pastureland, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage. Sustainable farming practices and efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of cattle farming are gaining importance.

Cow-Related Terminology

A female cow that has given birth to a calf is called a cow, while a male is called a bull. A young cow is referred to as a heifer until she has her first calf. The term “cattle” is often used to refer to cows collectively.

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Cow Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Genus: Bos

Species: Bos taurus

Cow Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Cows are generally large animals, with adult females (cows) weighing around 1,000 to 1,800 pounds (450 to 820 kilograms) and standing around 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall at the shoulder. Adult males (bulls) are larger and heavier than females.
  • Body Shape: Cows have a robust and rectangular body shape. They have a broad chest and a large, rounded abdomen.
  • Head: Cows have a relatively large head with a broad forehead and a prominent muzzle. They have a strong jaws with powerful chewing capabilities.
  • Horns: Both male and female cows can have horns, although horned breeds are less common nowadays.
  • Coat: Cows have short-haired coats that can vary in color, including black, white, brown, and various shades in between. The coat protects against the elements.
  • Ears: Cows have large, rounded ears that are flexible and sensitive. They can rotate their ears independently to help detect sounds from different directions.
  • Eyes: Cows have large, expressive eyes positioned on the sides of their head, providing them with a wide field of vision. Their eyes are known for their gentle and docile appearance.
  • Tail: Cows have long tails with a tuft of hair at the end. They use their tails to swat away flies and insects.
  • Hooves: Cows have cloven hooves, divided into two parts. Their hooves are strong and adapted for walking and grazing on various terrains.

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Key Locations of Cow

  • United States
  • Brazil
  • India
  • China
  • European Union
  • Russia
  • Australia
  • Argentina
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

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Cow FAQs

What Cow Eats?

Here’s a list of what cows eat:

  • Grass
  • Hay
  • Silage
  • Forage crops (such as alfalfa, clover, and sorghum)
  • Pasture plants
  • Legumes (such as peas and beans)
  • Corn (as silage or grain)
  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Soybean meal
  • Mineral supplements
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