Amazing cow facts

Written by jennifer eblin
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Amazing cow facts
A standing cow means dry weather ahead, according to country lore. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A cow is a female bovine that has reached maturity. These animals are farmed for food such as milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt and they're kept in a farm's fields and cattle sheds. There are also heifers, which haven’t reached maturity and won’t be considered cows until giving birth to their first calf.


In English-speaking countries, the word “moo” is used to approximate the noise a cow makes, which is spelt exactly how it sounds coming from a cow’s mouth. Other languages have their own way, such as “muh” in German and “mu!” in Italian. There are at least 15 different words for cow in other languages and at least nine words meaning cowpat, or the droppings left behind by a cow, including the Swedish word "dynga."

Physical facts

An adult cow weighs about 635 kg (1,400 lb) and has 207 bones. The heart of a cow weighs 2.2 kg (5 lb) and pumps around 400 times when a cow is being milked. Farm cows produce 13.5 to 36 litres (3 to 8 gallons) of milk per session and have to pump 10,000 times to make that amount, with most cows milked twice a day. Cows also have cloven hooves that allow them to spread their feet when in a muddy or sinking area and retain their balance.


Over the course of its life, a cow will produce 200,000 glasses of milk. In a single day, a cow can produce 60.5 litres (64 quarts), enough to make 4.5 litres (5 gallons) of ice cream, 2.7 kg (6 lb) of butter or 6.35 kg (14 lb) of cheese. Holstein cows are the biggest producers and give off enough milk that they must be milked twice every day. They can produce nearly 30,844 kg (68,000 lb) of milk a year..

Fun facts

In order to give milk, cows need water, and they’re capable of drinking 136 litres (30 gallons) a day. Cows also have legs that bend in only one direction, which means that while they can walk up the stairs, they’re incapable of walking down them. Cows are also capable of detecting scents in the air from more than six miles away.

Cows and weather

According to an old wives’ tale or legend, farmers can detect the weather and predict it in the future by watching how cows in the field act. If a cow scratches her ear, it means that a rainstorm is coming. If the same cow hits herself in the ribs with her tail, it means that a thunder or lightning storm is on the way. Another legend claims that if a cow hits her body with her tail, it means a hail storm is on its way. These stories have existed for centuries.

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