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.