Definition of Cow
Ten years ago I would have had no idea what a Heifer, Hereford, Black Baldy, or Black Angus was. But, when my Dad retired he bought a farm and fulfilled his lifelong dream of being a farmer. Now, I have had the opportunity to learn about farm life and, specifically, about cattle. My Dad has a small heard of cattle on his farm in Southeastern Missouri.
What is a Cow?
When most people see cattle out in the field they say, "look, cows". Well the animals that you see in the field are not actually all cows, although the word has become the generic reference for a group of cattle. A cow is technically a female adult bovine who has given birth.
What is a Bull?
A bull is a male bovine that has not been castrated.
What is a Steer?
A steer is a castrated adult male.
Baby Bull Calf - Black Baldy
What is a Calf?
A calf is a baby of either sex. To the right is a picture of baby bull calf at my parents farm.
What is a Heifer?
A heifer is a female who has not yet had a baby.
Black Angus Bull, Hereford Cows, & Black Baldy Calves
Black Angus Bull
Black Angus + Hereford = Black Baldy
You will notice in the pictures of my parents cattle that the cattle are referred to as Black Angus, Hereford, and Black Baldy. These are types of cattle. Just like there are different breeds of dogs like a Black Lab or a Dalmatian, there are different breeds of cattle. My parents have a Black Angus Bull. Black Angus Cattle are all black, as their name suggests. They have a blocky build. The bulls have a muscular neck where the female cows have smaller necks. Angus cows usually weigh between 950 to 1200 pounds while the bulls weigh between 1800 to 2300 pounds. The bull in the picture is named "Sparky". He weighs right around 2,000 pounds. Other characteristics of the Black Angus are on their heads. They wide foreheads, perky ears, and smaller noses.
The adult female cows on the farm are all Herefords. This is another breed of cattle. Hereford's are mainly red with some white on their face, mane, lower legs, and belly. Hereford's are the most abundant type of cattle in the world. They are selected by farmers due to their ability to withstand many climates and their docile demeanor.
When you breed a Black Angus with a Hereford, their baby is a Black Baldy. They have white faces like the Hereford and black bodies like the Black Angus. Black Baldy's are popular because the females have good mothering instincts. Also, their black skin and udders reduce the chance of sunburn. Black Baldies are a very popular type of cattle to raise because the market for them is good. They sell well because they have the best traits of the Black Angus and Hereford's. The feeling is that genetics of the two breeds create a superior breed and the Black Baldies are able to bulk up with less feed.
Cattle is considered one of the earliest animals to be domesticated. It is believed that humans have kept cattle as livestock since around 10,000 BCE. It is believed that cattle were domesticated after the domestication of sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs. These cattle served the purpose of providing meat, milk, and labor to their owners.
There are over 800 breeds of cattle worldwide. Of those 800 breeds there is an estimated 1.3 billion cattle in the world. The cattle population is largest in India, followed by Brazil, China, and the United States. The 800 breeds of cattle include both wild and domesticated cattle. There are two main types of breeds. Bos indicus or Bos taurus indicus cattle are adapted to hot climates. While, Bos taurus or Bos taurus taurus are adapted to cooler climates. Some breeds of cattle have been interbred between the two. The most common cattle breeds in the United States are the Belton Galloway, Charolais, Dexter, Gelbveih, Hereford, Holstein, Limousin, Piedmontese, Red Angus, Scottish Highland, Shorthorn, Simmental, Texas Longhorn, and Watusi.
Dexter cattle originated in Ireland. Dexter cattle are a smaller breed of cattle. They are about half the size of Hereford cattle. Adult bulls only get up to about 1,000 pounds. Because of their small size, they are require less pasture. They also produce more milk per pound then any other breed. However, they can be breed for milk or beef. They are a good choice for a hobby farmer.
Holstein cows average about 1,600 pounds. Holstein's are the trademark dairy cow. They are known for their black and white coloring. They have excellent milk production but during their lifespan the only produce milk for about six years. Besides for milk production, Holstein's can also be raised for beef.
The Limousin breed of cattle is one of the oldest breeds still alive today. Cave paintings in France from 20,000 years ago show pictures of cattle that look like the Limousin cattle of today. They have been used as work animals to til fields.
The Piedmontese breed is about 25,000 years old. The breed originated in Northwest Italy. They are one of the most muscular, hardy, and disease resistant varieties of beef cattle. Their milk is used in several Italian cheeses.
Red Angus is a cross between English Longhorn cattle and Black Angus cattle. When produced, three of four calves were black and one was red. Aside from color, Red Angus is just like Black Angus.
As you can see from the above picture, the Scott Highland breed of cattle is stocky, has long hair, long horns, and long eyelashes. This protects them from flies and other insects. They also have a layer of fat that protects them in harsh climates. However, they are capable of living in both cold and warm climates. However, they are originally from the cooler climate of Scotland. They will eat brush and weeds that other cattle will not. One of the oldest breeds, they are considered intelligent and even tempered. They are only used for beef.
Shorthorn's are also referred to as Durham cattle. They were used among the earlier American settlers because they could be used for work, milk, and beef. Shorthorn's are known for their longevity, mothering ability, ability to reproduce, as well as their adaptability.
Simmental's are a Swiss breed from Western Switzerland. They are typically red and white in color but not always. 80% of the Simmental in the United States are black. In Europe they are traditionally used for milk production while in the United States they are typically used for beef. They can also be used as a work animal. They grow to a large size rapidly. This breed is one of the oldest in the world. It is also one of the most widely distributed breeds.
The Texas Longhorn is an American breed of cattle that originated in Texas. It was nearly extinct due to cross breeding but has made a comeback due to it's popularity. They will eat course materials that other breeds will not. They are known for their adaptability, fertility, disease resistance, and longevity. Their horns can be up to 7 feet across. They are used for their beef as well as for riding. The below link explains why the Texas Longhorns are good for riding.
While their name sounds like a dance from the 1960s this breed of cattle is actually 6,000 years older. The Watusi are from the Egyptian Nile Valley.Their horns can be up to 12 feet long but they are actually a medium sized breed. They are able to tolerate extreme climates but being from Egypt they handle hot climates particularly well. Those large horns are used to cool them down. The blood flows through the body, to the horns to cool down, and then back in to the body. Watusi cattle are used for beef.
The Belted Galloway is also known as the Oreo Cow. Originally from Scotland, they are a cross between a Scottish solid color cow and a Dutch Belted cow. Belted Galloway's have a double coat of hair. This keeps them warm in cold climates or harsh weather. They are usually kept as ornaments for their looks. However, they can be used for beef. As there are fewer than 10,000 Belted Galloway's world wide, they are expensive.
Originally from France, the Charolais is light in color , can withstand warm and cold weather, and produce large calves. They are used for milk, beef, and as work animals.
- 16 common cattle breeds | Living the Country Life
With so many breeds available, how do you choose which is best for you? Here are common beef cattle.
Cattle Quizview quiz statistics
All dividers used in this hub are used with permission granted on hub, Creating Dividers to Use on Your Hubs. http://homesteadbound.hubpages.com/hub/Creating-Dividers-to-Use-on-Your-Hubs