Cows may seem like simple creatures — most of us have seen them grazing with seemingly not a care in the world. Well, thereís more to these ruminants than meets the eye. Here are 14 facts you probably havenít heard about cows:
1. Most people think that cows have four stomachs. Thatís actually not true. They have just one stomach with four chambers – rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. This allows them to digest tough plant matter that would normally be indigestible.
2. Cow gestation lasts the same amount of time as human pregnancy, nine months.
3. In 2009, a team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of agriculture announced that theyíd successfully mapped the bovine genome. The results? Cattle have about 22,000 genes, and a whopping 80% of those are shared with humans. (Another 10% are shared with dogs and rodents.)
4. The color red doesnít make bulls angry. In fact, cows are red-green colorblind! In bullfights, itís the motion of the cape that draws the bullís attention, not the color.
5. Moos arenít the only sound cows make! Calves make a sound called bawling, while bulls bellow.
6. Cows can live more than 20 years (although dairy cows rarely live that long, and cows raised for meat are lucky to live to be 2 years old).† If they have horns, you can guess their age by counting the number of rings.
7. The first cow to fly in an airplane was Elm Farm Ollie in February 1930. (Incidentally also the first cow to be milked on an airplane.)
8. The average domestic cow sleeps only about four hours a day.
9. The first cows in the Americas arrived with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage.
10. Cows drink the equivalent of a bathtub full of water each day. Hey, it takes a lot to wash down 40 pounds of food!
11. Cows can walk up a flight of stairs, but once there, they canít walk back down. Their knees just donít bend the right way.
12. Holstein cows may not have hands, but they have their own unique ďfingerprint.Ē No two cows have the same set of spots!
13. There are more than 800 different breeds of cattle around the world.
14. Have you ever heard that a cow knocked a kerosene lamp and caused the Great Chicago Fire? Well, it turns out Mrs. OíLearyís cow was framed. In 1893, the reporter who first wrote the story admitted to fabricating the thing. A little unfair, we think.
What’s with all the†cow content? One wily Care2 member, Bessie the Holstein, decided cows were underrepresented and†started a petition. She officially staged a successful takeover of our offices, and has redubbed us “CareMoo.”
Photo credit: Steve Arnold