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The veterinary discipline dealing with cattle and cattle diseases (bovine veterinary) is called buiatrics.[167] Veterinarians and professionals working on cattle health issues are pooled in the World Association for Buiatrics, founded in 1960.[168] National associations and affiliates also exist.[169]

In the laboratory, cattle can be trained to recognise conspecific individuals using olfaction only.[82]

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1Large ruminant animals with horns and cloven hoofs, domesticated for meat or milk, or as beasts of burden; cows and oxen.

Cattle were originally identified as three separate species: Bos taurus, the European or "taurine" cattle (including similar types from Africa and Asia); Bos indicus, the zebu; and the extinct Bos primigenius, the aurochs. The aurochs is ancestral to both zebu and taurine cattle.[citation needed] Now, these have been reclassified as one species, Bos taurus, with three subspecies: Bos taurus primigenius, Bos taurus indicus, and Bos taurus taurus.[4][5]

2Animals of a group related to domestic cattle, including yak, bison, and buffaloes.

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A cow's udder contains two pairs of mammary glands, (commonly referred to as teats) creating four "quarters".[33] The front ones are referred to as fore quarters and the rear ones rear quarters.[34]

Vocalisations are an important mode of communication amongst cattle and can provide information on the age, sex, dominance status and reproductive status of the caller. Calves can recognize their mothers using vocal and vocal behaviour may play a role by indicating estrus and competitive display by bulls.[81]

The weight of adult cattle always depends on the breed. Smaller kinds, such as Dexter and Jersey adults, range between 272 to 454 kg (600 to 1,000 lb). Large Continental breeds, such as Charolais, Marchigiana, Belgian Blue and Chianina, adults range from 635 to 1,134 kg (1,400 to 2,500 lb). British breeds, such as Hereford, Angus, and Shorthorn, mature between 454 to 907 kg (1,000 to 2,000 lb), occasionally higher, particularly with Angus and Hereford.[40]

Cattle diseases were in the center of attention in the 1980s and 1990s when the Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, was of concern. Cattle might catch and develop various other diseases, like blackleg, bluetongue, foot rot too.[170][171][172]

Cattle have tactile sensations detected mainly by mechanoreceptors, thermoreceptors and nociceptors in the skin and muzzle. These are used most frequently when cattle explore their environment.[72]

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An ox is a mature bovine which has learned to respond appropriately to a teamster's signals. These signals are given by verbal commands or by noise (whip cracks). Verbal commands vary according to dialect and local tradition. In one tradition in North America, the commands are:[citation needed]

Oxen can pull harder and longer than horses. Though not as fast as horses, they are less prone to injury because they are more sure-footed.

(Definition of “cattle” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Cattle use visual/brain lateralisation in their visual scanning of novel and familiar stimuli.[60] Domestic cattle prefer to view novel stimuli with the left eye, i.e. using the right brain hemisphere (similar to horses, Australian magpies, chicks, toads and fish) but use the right eye, i.e. using the left hemisphere, for viewing familiar stimuli.[61]

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Cattle avoid grazing areas contaminated by the faeces of other cattle more strongly than they avoid areas contaminated by sheep,[96] but they do not avoid pasture contaminated by rabbit faeces.[97]

Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) have been found for a range of production and behavioral characteristics for both dairy and beef cattle.[104]

A common misconception about cattle (particularly bulls) is that they are enraged by the color red (something provocative is often said to be "like a red flag to a bull"). This is a myth. In bullfighting, it is the movement of the red flag or cape that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.[citation needed]


In terms of food intake by humans, consumption of cattle is less efficient than of grain or vegetables with regard to land use, and hence cattle grazing consumes more area than such other agricultural production when raised on grains.[113] Nonetheless, cattle and other forms of domesticated animals can sometimes help to use plant resources in areas not easily amenable to other forms of agriculture.

In the United States, the average weight of beef cattle has steadily increased, especially since the 1970s, requiring the building of new slaughterhouses able to handle larger carcasses. New packing plants in the 1980s stimulated a large increase in cattle weights.[42] Before 1790 beef cattle averaged only 160 kg (350 lb) net; and thereafter weights climbed steadily.[43][44]

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Cattle use all of the five widely recognized sensory modalities. These can assist in some complex behavioural patterns, for example, in grazing behaviour. Cattle eat mixed diets, but when given the opportunity, show a partial preference of approximately 70% clover and 30% grass. This preference has a diurnal pattern, with a stronger preference for clover in the morning, and the proportion of grass increasing towards the evening.[71]

In calves, the frequency of agonistic behavior decreases as space allowance increases, but this does not occur for changes in group size. However, in adult cattle, the number of agonistic encounters increases as the group size increases.[93]

It is difficult to generalize or average out the weight of all cattle because different kinds have different averages of weights. However, according to some sources, the average weight of all cattle is 753 kg (1,660 lb). Finishing steers in the feedlot average about 640 kg (1,410 lb); cows about 725 kg (1,600 lb), and bulls about 1,090 kg (2,400 lb).[41]

Studies on the natural weaning of zebu cattle (Bos indicus) have shown that the cow weans her calves over a 2-week period, but after that, she continues to show strong affiliatory behaviour with her offspring and preferentially chooses them for grooming and as grazing partners for at least 4–5 years.[90]

When mixed with other individuals, cloned calves from the same donor form subgroups, indicating that kin discrimination occurs and may be a basis of grouping behaviour. It has also been shown using images of cattle that both artificially inseminated and cloned calves have similar cognitive capacities of kin and non-kin discrimination.[57]

The horns of cattle are "honest signals" used in mate selection. Furthermore, horned cattle attempt to keep greater distances between themselves and have fewer physical interactions than hornless cattle. This leads to more stable social relationships.[92]

Cattle are large, hoofed mammals that people raise for their meat, milk, or hides. In some places cattle also pull carts or farm equipment. Cattle belong to the scientific family Bovidae, which also includes buffalo, bison, and yaks.

Most cattle are not kept solely for hides, which are usually a by-product of beef production. Hides are most commonly used for leather which can be made into a variety of product including shoes. In 2012 India was the world's largest producer of cattle hides.[126]

In general, the same words are used in different parts of the world, but with minor differences in the definitions. The terminology described here contrasts the differences in definition between the United Kingdom and other British-influenced parts of world such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United States.[14]

Cattle are large quadrupedal ungulate mammals with cloven hooves. Most breeds have horns, which can be as large as the Texas Longhorn or small like a scur. Careful genetic selection has allowed polled (hornless) cattle to become widespread.

Cow urine is commonly used in India for internal medical purposes.[176][177] It is distilled and then consumed by patients seeking treatment for a wide variety of illnesses.[178] At present, no conclusive medical evidence shows this has any effect.[179] However, an Indian medicine containing cow urine has already obtained U.S. patents.[180]

As with many animal dominance hierarchies, dominance-associated aggressiveness does not correlate with rank position, but is closely related to rank distance between individuals.[91]