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Cattle Livestock

Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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Cattle Meaning

Cattle are huge cloven-hooved animals that have been tamed. The male cattle are called bull and female cattle are called a cow. Cattle cows are typically raised as livestock for meat, milk, and hides, which are used in the manufacturing of leather. They are employed as riding animals as well as draught animals that pull carts, ploughs, and other implements, such as oxen or bullocks. Cattle dung is another byproduct that can be utilized to make manure or fuel.

Taxonomy of Cattle

  • Cattles belong to the kingdom Animalia.

  • Their phylum is Chordata.

  • The class of cattle is Mammalia.

  • The order is Artiodactyla.

  • The family of cattle is Bovidae and the subfamily is Bovinae.

  • The scientific name of cattle of Bos taurus.

  • There are three subspecies of cattle namely Bos taurus indicus, Bos taurus taurus, Bos taurus primigenius.

Cattle Terminology

  • A bull is an intact adult male who has not been castrated, while a steer is a castrated male.

  • A cow is an adult female who has given birth to a calf.

  • A heifer is a young female that has not yet given birth to her own calf and is under the age of three.

  • A young female who has only had one calf is sometimes referred to as a first-calf heifer.

  • Until they are weaned, young cows and bulls are referred to as calves. If they are between the ages of one and two, they are referred to as yearlings or stirks.

  • A castrated male kept for cattle farming or riding purposes is called an ox.

  • A wild, young, unmarked bull is known as a micky in Australia.

  • An unbranded bovine of either sex is called a maverick in the US and Canada.

  • Beef cattle are cattle that are raised for human consumption.

  • Dairy cattle are cattle that have been bred specifically to produce milk.

Characteristics of Cattles

  • Cattle are ungulate mammals with cloven hooves that are huge quadrupedal. The horns of most breeds can be as huge as the Texas Longhorns or as little as a scur's. Hornless cattle have grown common due to careful genetic selection.

  • Cattle are ruminants, which means their digestive systems are highly developed to allow them to eat vegetation that is difficult to digest.

  • The rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum are the four chambers in a cow's stomach, with the rumen being the largest.

  • The honeycomb refers to the reticulum, the smallest compartment.

  • The primary purpose of the omasum is to absorb water and nutrients from a digestible diet.

  • The abomasum resembles a human stomach, which is why it is referred to as the actual stomach.

  • Cattle, like most ruminants, are noted for regurgitating and re-chewing their food, a process known as cud-chewing.

  • The food is ingested whole, without being chewed, and stored in the rumen until the animal can find a peaceful spot to continue the digesting process.

  • The food is regurgitated, one mouthful at a time, back into the mouth, where it is eaten by the molars, which ground down the coarse plants into little particles. 

  • The cud is subsequently swallowed again and processed further in the rumen by specialist microbes. These microorganisms are in charge of breaking down cellulose and other carbs into volatile fatty acids, which cattle consume as their principal source of energy.

  • Amino acids are also synthesised by rumen bacteria from non-protein nitrogenous sources like urea and ammonia.

  • Older generations of these microorganisms die as they multiply in the rumen, and their cells pass through the digestive tract.

  • In the small intestines, these cells are partially digested, providing cattle with a high-quality protein supply. Cattle can thrive on grasses and other difficult vegetation thanks to these characteristics.

  • A cow's gestation period is approximately nine months. The size of a newborn calf varies by breed, although the average calf weighs 25 to 45 kg.

  • Adult size and weight differ substantially depending on breed and gender. Steers are usually killed before they reach a weight of 750 kg.

  • Breeding stock may be given a longer life expectancy, with some animals surviving up to 25 years.

  • Artificial insemination, a medically assisted reproductive procedure that involves the artificial deposition of semen in the female's vaginal tract, is highly popular on farms. 

  • Artificial insemination is utilised when spermatozoa can't reach the fallopian tubes, or just because the animal's owner prefers it. It entails delivering previously collected and processed spermatozoa to the uterine cavity, with the selection of morphologically more normal and mobile spermatozoa.

  • The udder of a cow is divided into four halves by two pairs of mammary glands known as teats. The front ones are called forequarters, and the back ones are called rear quarters.

  • Induced ovulation procedures can be used to synchronize cattle ovulation for dairy farming purposes.

  • Bulls become fertile around the age of seven months.

  • Adult cattle come in a variety of sizes and weights, depending on the breed. Dexter and Jersey adults, for example, weigh between 272 and 454 kg.

  • Adults of large Continental breeds like Charolais, Marchigiana, Belgian Blue, and Chianina weigh between 635 and 1,134 kg.

  • British breeds such as Hereford, Angus, and Shorthorn mature at 454 to 907 kg, with Angus and Hereford reaching higher weights.

  • Bulls can weigh up to a few hundred kilogrammes more than cows of the same breed. Chianina bulls can weigh up to 1,500 kg, while British bulls like Angus and Hereford can range from 907 kg to 1,361 kg.

  • All five generally established sensory modalities are used by cattle. These can help with some more complicated behavioural patterns.

  • Cattle's major sense is vision, and they rely on it for over half of their information.

  • Cattle are prey animals, hence their eyes are on the sides of their heads rather than at the front to aid predator detection. They have a 330° field of view, but binocular vision and so stereopsis are limited to 30° to 50°, compared to 140° in humans.

  • Cattle have strong eye acuity, but low visual accommodation when compared to humans.

  • In the cone cells of cattle's retinas, there are two types of colour receptors. Cattle, like the majority of non-primate terrestrial mammals, are dichromatic.

  • A popular misunderstanding regarding cattle, especially bulls, is that the colour red enrages them. This is a myth. The movement of the red flag or cape bothers the bull and causes it to charge in bullfighting.

  • Cattle have an excellent sense of taste and can distinguish between the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. They have approximately 20,000 taste buds. Bitter-tasting foods are avoided, and sweet and salty foods are preferred.

  • Cattle have a hearing range of 23 to 35 kHz. Their best sensitivity frequency is 8 kHz, and their lowest threshold is 21 dB, indicating that they have better hearing than horses (lowest threshold of 7 dB).

  • The average sound localization acuity threshold is 30 degrees. Cattle, in comparison to goats (18°), dogs (8°), and humans (0.8°), have a lower ability to localize sounds.

  • Vocalizations are a common means of communication among cattle, and they can reveal the caller's age, sex, dominance status, and reproductive status. Calves use vocalizations to recognize their mothers, and vocal behaviour may play a role in indicating estrus and competitive display by bulls.

  • Cattle have a variety of odiferous glands throughout their bodies, including interdigital, infraorbital, inguinal, and sebaceous glands, implying that olfaction is important in their social lives.

  • The major olfactory system, which uses the olfactory bulbs, is used, as well as the secondary olfactory system, which uses the vomeronasal organ. The flehmen response makes use of the later olfactory system.

  • Cattle, in general, use their sense of smell to supplement the information obtained through other sensory modalities. However, olfaction is an important source of information for social and reproductive behaviours.

  • Mechanoreceptors, thermoreceptors, and nociceptors in the skin and muscles perceive tactile sensations in cattle. These are most commonly utilized when cattle are exploring their surroundings.

  • Semi-wild Highland cattle heifers give birth for the first time at the age of two or three years, and the births are timed to coincide with increases in natural food quality. The average calving interval is 391 days, with a 5% calf death rate in the first year.

  • Calves are naturally kept with their mothers until they are 8 to 11 months old when they are weaned. In the first several months of life, both heifer and bull calves are equally bonded to their mothers. 

  • Cattle are termed hider animals because they use secluded areas more in the hours leading up to calving and continue to do so in the hour following calving. Cows who have just given birth have a higher rate of aberrant mother behaviour.

Types of Cattle

There are over 1000 breeds of recognised cattle worldwide. In this section, we will look into some of the major breeds of cattle.

  • Highland Cattle

  • Highland cattle are a rustic Scottish breed. It has large horns and a long shaggy hair, and it originated in Scotland's Highlands and Outer Hebrides islands.

  • It is a sturdy breed that has been bred to endure the region's harsh climate.

  • They have large, wide horns and long, wavy woolly coats in red, ginger, black, dun, yellow, white, grey, silver, or tan, with the possibility of brindling.

  • They have a double layer of hair, which is rare. The oily exterior hair, which is the longest of any cattle breed, covers a downy undercoat on the outside. This makes them ideally suited to the Highlands circumstances, which include considerable yearly rainfall and occasionally very severe winds.

  • Heifers can weigh up to 500 kgs and mature bulls can weigh up to 800 kgs. Cows stand between 90 and 106 cm tall, while bulls stand between 106 and 120 cm tall.

  • Mating takes place all year, with a gestation duration of about 277–290 days. The most common birth is a single calf, however, twins are not uncommon. At the age of eighteen months, sexual maturity is reached.

  • Highland cattle can also expect to live up to 20 years longer than most other breeds of cattle.

  • They have traditionally been utilised as house cows because of their calm demeanour and high butterfat level in their milk. They are generally friendly animals, yet they are fiercely protective of their young.

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  • Dexter Cattle

  • Dexter cattle are an Irish cattle breed that originated in Ireland. They are the tiniest of the European cattle breeds, measuring half the size of a typical Hereford and a third of the size of a Holstein Friesian milking cow.

  • The Dexter breed was developed in southwestern Ireland and introduced to England in 1882.

  • They were considered a rare breed, but the Livestock Conservancy now considers them to be a recovering breed.

  • Dexters are a petite, sociable dual-purpose breed that is used for milk and beef, although they are frequently described as a triple-purpose breed because they are also used as oxen.

  • Dexters provide rich milk with a high butterfat content, and the overall quality of the milk is comparable to that of Jersey cattle. Dexters should be able to produce between 7.6 and 9.5 liters of milk per day.

  • The cows are extraordinary mothers, sheltering their babies virtually from the moment they are born if there is enough cover. Some cows have enough milk to nourish two or three calves at a time, and they frequently nurse calves from other cows. They are recognized for having a simple calving process.

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  • Jersey Cattle

  • Jersey cattle are a British breed of tiny dairy cattle native to the British Channel Islands of Jersey.

  • The milk is high in butterfat and has a characteristic yellowish colour; it is very productive cows may deliver over 10 times their own weight in milk per lactation.

  • Jersey cows weigh between 400 and 500 kg.

  • Jerseys come in a variety of brown colours, ranging from light tan to virtually black. They are usually fawn-coloured.

  • Bulls might be unpredictable or aggressive, while cows are peaceful and gentle.

  • The Jersey cow adapts well to a variety of temperatures and conditions, and unlike many other breeds that originated in temperate climes, these cows can withstand extreme heat. It has been exported to many nations throughout the world, with some, such as Denmark, France, New Zealand, and the United States, developing into their own breed. It is employed as a draught animal in Nepal.

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  • Brown Swiss Cattle

  • Brown Swiss, often known as American Brown Swiss, is a dairy cattle breed from the United States.

  • Its draught and beef characteristics were lost when it was selectively developed for dairy attributes solely.

  • Brown Swiss became a world breed in the twentieth century, with a population of seven million head estimated in 1990. It has affected a number of modern breeds and has been widely utilised for cross-breeding.

  • The American Brown Swiss is small to the medium-sized animal. The coat is often a light grey-brown colour, but it can range from nearly white to grey to dark brown. The coat may be shaded, with the forequarters being darker than the legs and hindquarters. The muzzle is black with a creamy white ring around it.

  • The brown Swiss milk is distinctive in that it contains longer-chain fatty acids and smaller fat globules in the cream than other common dairy breeds; as a result, the cream rises significantly more slowly in Brown Swiss milk. This disparity, as well as the milk's protein-to-fat ratio, are optimal for cheesemaking.

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  • Nellore Cattle

  • Ongole Livestock cattle were originally introduced to Brazil from India and were known as Nelore or Nellore cattle.

  • They are named after the Nellore district in India's Andhra Pradesh state.

  • The top of the shoulder and neck of the Nelore bears a noticeable big hump.

  • They have long legs that allow them to walk through water and graze.

  • With the exception of extremely cold temperatures, the Nelore can adapt to any environment. They can withstand extreme temperatures and are naturally resistant to parasites and illnesses.

  • Brazil is the world's leading producer of Nelore. Most Bos indicus varieties have longer ears than Nelore. A naturally polled strain of the breed exists.

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  • Sahiwal Cattle

  • Sahiwal cattle are a zebu cow breed called after a region in Punjab, Pakistan, where the cattle can be found.

  • The Sahiwal people hail from the arid Punjab region in central Punjab.

  • The Sahiwal cattle breed is known for its heat tolerance.

  • Today, the Sahiwal is one of India's and Pakistan's greatest dairy breeds. When it comes to milking, Sahiwal is composed. They have been exported to other Asian countries, as well as Africa and the Caribbean, because of their heat tolerance and excellent milk production.

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  • Red Sindhi Cattle

  • The most popular of all Zebu dairy breeds are the red Sindhi cattle. The breed was developed in Pakistan's Sindh area, and it is now widely used for milk production in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and other nations.

  • In several areas, they have been utilized to crossbreed with temperate dairy breeds to combine their tropical characteristics like heat tolerance, tick resistance, disease resistance, fertility at higher temperatures, and so on with the higher milk output observed in temperate locations. In various places, including India, the United States, Australia, and Sri Lanka, cattle production has been done by crossing Red Sindhi cattle with Jerseys.

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Domestication and Husbandry of Cattle

  • Cattle are frequently grown by letting herds graze on broad swaths of rangeland grasses. This method of cattle raising allows for the utilization of land that would otherwise be unsuitable for agricultural production.

  • Daily feeding, cleaning, and milking are the most common activities with cattle.

  • Ear tagging, dehorning, loading, medical operations, artificial insemination, vaccinations, and hoof care, as well as training for agricultural exhibits and preparations, are all common husbandry techniques.

  • Beef, veal, dairy, and leather are all products of cattle farming. They are employed less frequently for conservation grazing or merely to maintain grassland for wildlife, like in Epping Forest, England.

Uses of Cattle in Diary

  • Milk is produced by some breeds of cows, such as the Holstein-Friesian, and can be processed into dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt.

  • Dairy cattle are frequently housed on dairy farms that are specifically designed to produce milk. Most cows are milked twice a day, and the milk is processed at a dairy, which may be on-site at the farm or delivered to a dairy facility for sale as a dairy product.

  • Lactation in heifers and spayed cows is induced using a combination of physical and psychological stimulation, medications, or a combination of these treatments.

  • Dairy farming has gotten increasingly intensive in the previous fifty years in order to enhance the yield of milk generated by each cow.

  • The Holstein-Friesian is the most popular dairy cow breed in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. It has been carefully bred to deliver the highest milk production of any cow. In the United Kingdom, the average daily water use is around 22 liters.

Cattle Meat

  • Beef cattle are cattle that are raised for the purpose of producing meat. Beef is the most common name for the meat of mature or nearly mature cattle.

  • There are three main stages in beef production: cow-calf operations, backgrounding, and feedlot operations.

  • The animals' production cycle begins at cow-calf operations, which are specifically designed to breed cows for their progeny.

  • The calves are then backgrounded in preparation for a feedlot. Feeder cattle are animals raised expressly for the feedlot with the objective of fattening them up.

  • Animals that are not grown for a feedlot are usually female and are referred to as replacement heifers.

  • Beef cattle are mostly utilized for meat production, but they are also used for leather and beef by-products in candy, shampoo, cosmetics, insulin, and inhalers.


Cattle have various advantages over other dairy animals in terms of ease of milking, udder size, and the animal's ability to retain milk, as well as milk yield. Cattle milk, in fact, accounts for the majority of global milk production. Although developing countries have significantly more milking cows than industrialized countries, their animals have poorer milk yields and shorter lactations. Specialized dairy breeds like Friesian and Jersey produce a lot of milk but are poorly adapted to severe settings and require a lot of management, food, housing, and veterinary care.

FAQs on Cattle Livestock

Q1: What are Cattle?

Ans: Cattle is a large ruminant animal with horns and cloven hoofs, domesticated for meat and dairy products.

Q2: What is the Scientific Name of Cattle?

Ans: The scientific name of cattle is Bos taurus.

Q3: What are the Uses of Cattle?

Ans: Cattle are typically raised as livestock for meat, milk, and hides, which are used in the production of leather. They are utilized as riding and draught animals, and their cow dung is used in villages for a variety of uses, including home floors and cooking.