Photo: Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash
Cows are, for many of us, just animals that make milk and give us burgers, steak, leather, and suede. There’s not much more to be known about them, is there?
Actually, there is.
These fluffy, boopable field puppies have a lot more to them than the products they provide. Here are five amazing things most people don’t know about cows:
- Cows Are Super Social
You may assume cows don’t care about much more than chewing the cud, but the truth is they have quite a complex social life. If allowed to roam in a free-range capacity, they will naturally come together in large herds. Within that group, they will then create their own social circles, making strong relationships with some cows and avoiding others.
One study even showed that cows need to feel connected to other animals to be happy. This is one of many reasons why free-range farming is so important – it gives cows the chance to pick and choose their friends and how they spend their time.
- Cows Love to Play
Have you ever seen a video of a cow playing with a ball in a field and thought it looked just like a dog? These kinds of incidents are not down to one cow being dog-like. Scientific studies show that if allowed, cows will naturally play and take a lot of pleasure from their games. This behavior is most common in calves, but all ages will enjoy playing with each other and objects like balls. As with dogs, and indeed all mammals, these activities boost their quality of life and allow them to exercise and have fun!
- Cows Are Clever
When we think about animals and their intelligence, we must avoid comparing them to humans. However, intelligence does factor into our awareness of animals and how they might experience life, including the life that we, as humans, may give them. As it happens, cows are actually highly developed mammals, able to solve problems and be trained to respond to different sounds. There’s quite a lot of brain power inside those adorable big heads.
- Cows Have a Lot of Feelings
Cows are quite complex in their emotions, and their feelings extend far beyond being a little peeved that they can’t reach the lushest grass in the field. They have moments where they are pleased to have recognized or learned something. They can also be pessimistic, impacted by complex emotional scenarios, and filled with a desire to protect their calves. When separated from their babies, the grief of mother cows is palpable and heartbreaking.
- Cows Can Swim
Cows are surprisingly good at swimming and can actively be ‘swum’ across grazing pastures when kept in herds. If given the choice, cows may swim from one side of a pond to another to graze or wade in water when it’s hot. They can naturally tread water and float well from birth, but the distance they can swim depends on their strength and confidence and the water currents. As with any human or animal, if there are strong undercurrents and the cow does not have the strength to swim against them or get to safety, it will find itself in trouble.
Cows: More Than a Grass-Munching Machine
Cows are much more complex than we give them credit for, and it’s important to remember that next time you’re considering what to buy from the grocery store. Perhaps consider including more vegan foods in your diet or opting for higher welfare milk and meat options where possible – these hoofed grass-eating doggos will thank you for it!