جد گاوهای اهلی امروزی حیوانی منقرضشده به نام نیاگاو (Bos primigenius) میباشد. اولین حیوانی که به سرده بوس متعلق بود در بیش از دو میلیون سال پیش در آسیا دیده شد. نیاگاو در حدود دویست وپنجاه هزار سال پیش به اروپا رسید. این حیوان کمی از فیل کوچکتر بوده و خشن و چابک بود.
در آروارهٔ فوقانی گاو دندانهای پیشین و نیش وجود ندارند و فقط دندانهای آسیا وجود دارند و برعکس دندانهای پیشین و نیش در فک تحتانی موجودند. دندانهای نیش گاوها همانند ثنایا شده و بطور کلی بشکل یک ردیف منظم هشت تایی در جلوی فک قرار دارد.
درهردست وپای گاو یک زوج سم وجود دارد.
گاو حیوانی است بدون تغییرات فصلی تولید مثلی، یعنی در کل سال قادر به انجام زاد و ولد میباشد. طول حاملگی این حیوان نه ماه بوده و غالباً تکقلوزا میباشد، اگر چه دوقلوزائی و چندقلوزائی نیز گاه دیده میشود. احتمال دوقلوزائی در گاو یک تا دو درصد میباشد. گوساله ماده پس از رسیدن به سن بلوغ جنسی که از ده ماهگی به بعد است به طور میانگین هر ۲۱ روز یکبار فحل میآید و آماده پذیرش دام نر میشود.
نژادهای گاو بسیار زیاد هستند. بستگی به نوع استفادهای که از گاو میشود نژادهای گاو به نژادهای گوشتی، شیری و دو منظوره تقسیم میشود.
نژادهای معروف گاوهای ایرانی عبارتاند از: سرابی، سیستانی، گلپایگانی و و دشتیاری[پانویس ۱] و نژادهای جنگلی یا ساحلی یا که مخصوص نواحی گیلان و مازندران و گرگان و است، نژاد کوهستان که گاوهای سراب و اردبیل و دیگر نواحی آذربایجان از آن نژادند.
نزدیک به ۶۰۰۰ سال پیش از میلاد مسیح با تغییر زندگی بشر از شکارگری به کشاورزی و بدنبال توسعه مزارع، گاوهای وحشی به این کشتزارها هجوم میآوردند که به تدریج بشر توانست تعدادی از این حیوان را به اسارت در آورده و اهلی نماید. گاو پس از سگ و گوسفند و بز و گربه اهلی شد. ابتدا از گوشت گاو استفاده میشد اما سرانجام انسان توانست چگونگی دوشش شیر گاو را فرا بگیرد. باستانشناسان معتقدند: اهلی شدن گاو در آسیا و خاور میانه بین ۴۵۰۰ تا ۶۰۰۰ سال پیش از میلاد مسیح انجام شدهاست.[پانویس ۲]
جانوری بسیار مفید است و از شیر و گوشت و پوست و نیروی بدنی آن استفاده میشود. از گاو نر جهت تخمکشی، شخم و بارکشی نیز استفاده میشود.
احتمالاً یکی از هدف های اصلی اهلی کردن گاو بارکشی بودهاست.از نیروی فیل، شتر و اسب، بعد از گاو استفاده شد.[پانویس ۳]
هند بیشترین تعداد گاو در جهان را در اختیار دارد، حدود ۲۸۱٬۷۰۰٬۰۰۰ برابر با ۲۸٫۲۹٪ از کل جمعیت گاوهای جهان در این کشور زندگی میکنند. در پی آن برزیل با: ۱۸۷٬۰۸۷٬۰۰۰، ۱۸٫۷۹٪؛ چین: ۱۳۹٬۷۲۱٬۰۰۰، ۱۴٫۰۳٪؛ آمریکا: ۹۶٬۶۶۹٬۰۰۰، ۹٫۷۱٪؛ اتحادیه اروپا: ۸۷٬۶۵۰٬۰۰۰، ۸٫۸۰٪؛ آرژانتین: ۵۱٬۰۶۲٬۰۰۰، ۵٫۱۳٪؛ استرالیا: ۲۹٬۲۰۲٬۰۰۰، ۲٫۹۳٪؛ آفریقای جنوبی: ۱۴٬۱۸۷٬۰۰۰، ۱٫۴۲٪؛ کانادا: ۱۳٬۹۴۵٬۰۰۰، ۱٫۴۰٪ و دیگر کشورها: ۴۹٬۷۵۶٬۰۰۰، ۵٫۰۰٪.
گاو و انسان[ویرایش]
گاو در فرهنگ مازندرانی[ویرایش]
همچنین در زبان مازندرانی وضعیتهای گوناگون گاو هر یک برای خود واژه و اصطلاحی دارند که به جای توضیح و توصیف وضعیت گاو بکار میروند. برای نمونه، گوسالهٔ دو روزه، یک هفته، یکماهه، گوسالهای که شیر میخورد، گوسالهای که شیر مادرش نمیآید، گاو بالغ، گاو آبستن، در مراحل آخر آبستنی، در واپسین روزهای آبستنی، گوسالهای که به سختی به دنیا آمده، گوسالهٔ بیجان نزدیک به مرگ، گاو پیر و بسیاری از موارد دیگر همگی در زبان مازندرانی نام ویژه خود را دارا هستند.
پادشاهان مازندران در طول تاریخ در شهرهای مختلف مازندران گاوداریهای مختلفی داشتند و بسیاری از مردم (رعیت) را به کار در آنجا مشغول میساختند و بدین گونه خود را ولی نعمت مردم میساختند تا مردم در هنگام جنگها به پشتیبانی پادشاه بشتابند. همچنین اگر دشمنی میخواست تا بر آنها پیروز گردد میبایست در ابتدا برنامه گرفتن گاوداریها را میپروراند و طرح میریخت.[نیازمند منبع]
گاو در فرهنگ هند[ویرایش]
در آیین و قوانین هندوان گاو از احترام بسیار ویژهای برخوردار است.
گاو در فرهنگ اروپا[ویرایش]
در ادبیات اروپا بستگی به نوع نژاد و اقوام مردم، گاو به نمادهای گوناگونی شناخته گردیده شدهاست، در اسپانیا و در جشنها و عیدها، مراسم گاوبازی برپا است، در آلمان هنروران بسیاری در درازای تاریخ همیشه از گاو در دیدگاههای نگارههای خویش بهره میجستند، در فرانسه آنقدر مهم است که در بسیاری از مکانها مجسمه گاو را جای دادهاند.
"Cow" redirects here. For other uses, see Cow (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Cattle (disambiguation).
Cattle—colloquially cows[note 1]—are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos taurus. Cattle are raised as livestock for meat (beef and veal), as dairy animals for milk and other dairy products, and as draft animals (oxen or bullocks that pull carts, plows and other implements). Other products include leather and dung for manure or fuel. In some regions, such as parts of India, cattle have significant religious meaning. From as few as 80 progenitors domesticated in southeast Turkey about 10,500 years ago, according to an estimate from 2003, there are 1.3 billion cattle in the world. In 2009, cattle became one of the first livestock animals to have a fully mapped genome. Some consider cattle the oldest form of wealth, and cattle raiding consequently one of the earliest forms of theft.
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. Now, these have been reclassified as one species, Bos taurus, with three subspecies: Bos taurus primigenius, Bos taurus indicus, and Bos taurus taurus.
Complicating the matter is the ability of cattle to interbreed with other closely related species. Hybrid individuals and even breeds exist, not only between taurine cattle and zebu (such as the sanga cattle, Bos taurus africanus), but also between one or both of these and some other members of the genus Bos – yaks (the dzo or yattle), banteng, and gaur. Hybrids such as the beefalo breed can even occur between taurine cattle and either species of bison, leading some authors to consider them part of the genus Bos, as well. The hybrid origin of some types may not be obvious – for example, genetic testing of the Dwarf Lulu breed, the only taurine-type cattle in Nepal, found them to be a mix of taurine cattle, zebu, and yak. However, cattle cannot successfully be hybridized with more distantly related bovines such as water buffalo or African buffalo.
The aurochs originally ranged throughout Europe, North Africa, and much of Asia. In historical times, its range became restricted to Europe, and the last known individual died in Masovia, Poland, in about 1627. Breeders have attempted to recreate cattle of similar appearance to aurochs by crossing traditional types of domesticated cattle, creating the Heck cattle breed.
Cattle did not originate as the term for bovine animals. It was borrowed from Anglo-Norman catel, itself from medieval Latin capitale 'principal sum of money, capital', itself derived in turn from Latin caput 'head'. Cattle originally meant movable personal property, especially livestock of any kind, as opposed to real property (the land, which also included wild or small free-roaming animals such as chickens — they were sold as part of the land). The word is a variant of chattel (a unit of personal property) and closely related to capital in the economic sense. The term replaced earlier Old English feoh 'cattle, property', which survives today as fee (cf. German: Vieh, Dutch: vee, Gothic: faihu).
The word "cow" came via Anglo-Saxon cū (plural cȳ), from Common Indo-European gʷōus (genitive gʷowés) = "a bovine animal", compare Persian gâv, Sanskrit go-, Welsh buwch. The plural cȳ became ki or kie in Middle English, and an additional plural ending was often added, giving kine, kien, but also kies, kuin and others. This is the origin of the now archaic English plural, "kine". The Scots language singular is coo or cou, and the plural is "kye".
In older English sources such as the King James Version of the Bible, "cattle" refers to livestock, as opposed to "deer" which refers to wildlife. "Wild cattle" may refer to feral cattle or to undomesticated species of the genus Bos. Today, when used without any other qualifier, the modern meaning of "cattle" is usually restricted to domesticated bovines.
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.
See also: List of animal names
Singular terminology issue
Cattle can only be used in the plural and not in the singular: it is a plurale tantum. Thus one may refer to "three cattle" or "some cattle", but not "one cattle". No universally used singular form in modern English of "cattle" exists, other than the sex- and age-specific terms such as cow, bull, steer and heifer. Historically, "ox" was not a sex-specific term for adult cattle, but generally this is now used only for draft cattle, especially adult castrated males. The term is also incorporated into the names of other species, such as the musk ox and "grunting ox" (yak), and is used in some areas to describe certain cattle products such as ox-hide and oxtail.
"Cow" is in general use as a singular for the collective "cattle", despite the objections by those who insist it to be a female-specific term. Although the phrase "that cow is a bull" is absurd from a lexicographic standpoint, the word "cow" is easy to use when a singular is needed and the sex is unknown or irrelevant – when "there is a cow in the road", for example. Further, any herd of fully mature cattle in or near a pasture is statistically likely to consist mostly of cows, so the term is probably accurate even in the restrictive sense. Other than the few bulls needed for breeding, the vast majority of male cattle are castrated as calves and slaughtered for meat before the age of three years. Thus, in a pastured herd, any calves or herd bulls usually are clearly distinguishable from the cows due to distinctively different sizes and clear anatomical differences. Merriam-Webster, a US dictionary, recognizes the sex-nonspecific use of "cow" as an alternate definition, whereas Collins, a UK dictionary, does not.
Colloquially, more general nonspecific terms may denote cattle when a singular form is needed. Australian, New Zealand and British farmers use the term "beast" or "cattle beast". "Bovine" is also used in Britain. The term "critter" is common in the western United States and Canada, particularly when referring to young cattle. In some areas of the American South (particularly the Appalachian region), where both dairy and beef cattle are present, an individual animal was once called a "beef critter", though that term is becoming archaic.
Cattle raised for human consumption are called "beef cattle". Within the beef cattle industry in parts of the United States, the term "beef" (plural "beeves") is still used in its archaic sense to refer to an animal of either sex. Cows of certain breeds that are kept for the milk they give are called "dairy cows" or "milking cows" (formerly "milch cows"). Most young male offspring of dairy cows are sold for veal, and may be referred to as veal calves.
The term "dogies" is used to describe orphaned calves in the context of ranch work in the American West, as in "Keep them dogies moving". In some places, a cow kept to provide milk for one family is called a "house cow". Other obsolete terms for cattle include "neat" (this use survives in "neatsfoot oil", extracted from the feet and legs of cattle), and "beefing" (young animal fit for slaughter).
An onomatopoeic term for one of the most common sounds made by cattle is "moo" (also called lowing). There are a number of other sounds made by cattle, including calves bawling, and bulls bellowing. Bawling is most common for cows after weaning of a calg. The bullroarer makes a sound similar to a bull's territorial call.
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.
Cattle are ruminants, meaning their digestive system is highly specialized to allow the use of poorly digestible plants as food. Cattle have one stomach with four compartments, the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, with the rumen being the largest compartment. Cattle are known for regurgitating and re-chewing their food, known as "cud" chewing. The reticulum, the smallest compartment, is known as the "honeycomb". Cattle sometimes consume metal objects which are deposited in the reticulum and irritation from the metal objects causes hardware disease. The omasum's main function is to absorb water and nutrients from the digestible feed. The omasum is known as the "many plies". The abomasum is like the human stomach; this is why it is known as the "true stomach". The cud is then swallowed again and further digested by specialized microorganisms in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel. The microbes inside the rumen also synthesize amino acids from non-protein nitrogenous sources, such as urea and ammonia. As these microbes reproduce in the rumen, older generations die and their cells continue on through the digestive tract. These cells are then partially digested in the small intestines, allowing cattle to gain a high-quality protein source. These features allow cattle to thrive on grasses and other vegetation.
Gestation and size
The gestation period for a cow is about nine months long. A newborn calf's size can vary among breeds, but a typical calf typically weighs 25 to 45 kg (55 to 99 lb). Adult size and weight vary significantly among breeds and sex. The world record for the heaviest bull was 1,740 kg (3,840 lb), a Chianina named Donetto, when he was exhibited at the Arezzo show in 1955. The heaviest steer was eight-year-old ‘Old Ben’, a Shorthorn/Hereford cross weighing in at 2,140 kg (4,720 lb) in 1910. Steers are generally killed before reaching 750 kg (1,650 lb). Breeding stock may be allowed a longer lifespan, occasionally living as long as 25 years. The oldest recorded cow, Big Bertha, died at the age of 48 in 1993.
Further information: Bull § Reproductive anatomy
Bulls become fertile at about seven months of age. Their fertility is closely related to the size of their testicles, and one simple test of fertility is to measure the circumference of the scrotum: a young bull is likely to be fertile once this reaches 28 centimetres (11 in); that of a fully adult bull may be over 40 centimetres (16 in).
Bulls have a fibro-elastic penis. Given the small amount of erectile tissue, there is little enlargement after erection. The penis is quite rigid when non-erect, and becomes even more rigid during erection. Protrusion is not affected much by erection, but more by relaxation of the retractor penis muscle and straightening of the sigmoid flexure.
Adult weights of cattle always depend on the breed. Smaller kinds, such as Dexter and Jersey adults, range between 272 to 454 kg (600 to 1,001 lb). Large Continental breeds, such as Charolais, Marchigiana, Belgian Blue and Chianina, adults range up to 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 (1,001 to 2,000 lb), occasionally higher, particularly with Angus and Hereford.
Bulls will be a bit larger than cows of the same breed by a few hundred kilograms. Chianina bulls can weigh up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lb); British bulls, such as Angus and Hereford, can weigh as little as 907 kg (2,000 lb) to as much as 1,361 kg (3,000 lb).
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 (1,598 lb), and bulls about 1,090 kg (2,400 lb).
In the United States, the average weights of beef cattle have 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. Before 1790 beef cattle averaged only 160 kg (350 lb) net; and thereafter weights climbed steadily.
Cattle behave less aggressively towards familiar individuals compared to unfamiliar individuals when they are forming a new group. They are able to discriminate among familiar individuals, and among humans.
Cattle can discriminate between images of heads of their own species and other animal species. They are also to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar individuals of their own species. Furthermore, they are able to categorize between familiar and unfamilar individuals.
When cattle are stressed, this can be recognised by other cattle as it is communicated by alarm substances in the urine.
A study on learning by Holstein–Friesian heifers to press a panel to open a gate for access to a food reward recorded the heart rate and behaviour of the heifers when moving along the race towards the food. When the heifers made clear improvements in learning, they had higher heart rates and tended to move more vigorously along the race. The researchers concluded this was an indication that cattle may react emotionally to their own learning improvement.
Negative emotional states are associated with a bias toward negative (pessimistic) responses towards ambiguous cues in judgement tasks - as encapsulated in the question of "is the glass empty or half full?" After seperation from their mothers, Holstein calves showed such a cognitive bias indicative of low mood. A similar study showed that after hot-iron disbudding (de-horning), calves had a similar negative bias indicating that post-operative pain following this routine husbandry procedure results in a negative change in emotional state.
Cattle are a prey animal and to assist prey detection, their eyes are located on the sides of their head rather than the front. This gives them a wide field of view of 330o but limits binocular vision (and therefore stereopsis) to 30o to 50o compared to 140o in humans. This means they have a blind spot directly behind them. Cattle have good visual acuity (1/20).
Cattle have two kinds of color receptors in the cone cells of their retinas. This means that cattle are dichromatic, as are most other non-primate land mammals. There are two to three rods per cone in the fovea but five to six near the papilla. Cattle can distinguish long wavelength colours (yellow, orange and red) much better than the shorter wave lengths (blue, grey and green). Whilst having good colour sensitivity, this is not as good as humans or sheep.
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 incorrect, as cattle are red-green color-blind. The myth arose from the use of red capes in bullfighting; in fact, two different capes are used. The capote is a large, flowing, magenta and yellow cape. The more famous muleta is the smaller, red cape, used exclusively for the final, fatal segment of the fight. It is not the color of the cape that angers the bull, but rather the movement of the fabric that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.
Cattle hearing ranges from 23 Hz to 35 kHz. Their frequency of best sensitivity is 8 kHz and they have a lowest threshold of –21 db (re 20 μN/m–2), which means their hearing is more acute than horses (lowest threshold of 7 db). Sound localization acuity thresholds are an average of 30°. This means that cattle are less able to localise sounds compared to goats (18°), dogs (8°) and humans (0.8°). Because cattle have a broad foveal fields of view covering almost the entire horizon, they may not need very accurate locus information from their auditory systems to direct their gaze to a sound source.
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.
Olfaction and gustation
Cattle have a range of odiferous glands over their body including interdigital, infraorbital, inguinal and sebaceous glands, indicating that olfaction probably plays a large role in the their social life. Both the primary olfactory system using the olfactory bulbs, and the secondary olfactory system using the vomeronasal organ are used. This latter olfactory system is used in the flehmen response. There is evidence that when cattle are stressed, this can be recognised by other cattle and this is communicated by alarm substances in the urine. The odour of dog faeces induces behavioural changes prior to cattle feeding, whereas the odours of urine from either stressed or non-stressed conspecifics and blood have no effect.
If cattle become depleted of sodium salts, they show increased locomotion directed to searching for these. To assist in their search, olfactory and gustatory receptors able to detect minute amounts of sodium salts increase their sensitivity as biochemical disruption develops with sodium salt depletion.
In the laboratory, cattle be trained to recognise conspecific individuals using olfaction only.
Further information: Bovine genome
In the 24 April 2009, edition of the journal Science, a team of researchers led by the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Agriculture reported having mapped the bovine genome. The scientists found cattle have about 22,000 genes, and 80% of their genes are shared with humans, and they share about 1000 genes with dogs and rodents, but are not found in humans. Using this bovine "HapMap", researchers can track the differences between the breeds that affect the quality of meat and milk yields.
Domestication and husbandry
Geneticists and anthropologists used to suspect that, 10,000 years ago, Africans domesticated local cattle. A study done by University of Missouri researchers reported that ancient domesticated African cattle originated from multiple regions, in the middle-east and India. A study on 134 breeds showed that today's cattle originates from Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and Europe. According to McTavish et (2013) some researchers have suggested that African taurine cattle are derived from a third independent domestication from North African aurochsen.
Other genetic research suggests the entire modern domestic stock of taurine cattle may have arisen from as few as 80 aurochs tamed in the upper reaches of Mesopotamia about 10,500 years ago near the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja'de el-Mughara in northern Iraq.
Usage as money
As early as 9000 BC both grain and cattle were used as money or as barter (Davies) (the first grain remains found, considered to be evidence of pre-agricultural practice date to 17,000 BC).Some evidence also exists to suggest that other animals, such as camels and goats, may have been used as currency in some parts of the world.
Cattle are often raised by allowing herds to graze on the grasses of large tracts of rangeland. Raising cattle in this manner allows the use of land that might be unsuitable for growing crops. The most common interactions with cattle involve daily feeding, cleaning and milking. Many routine husbandry practices involve ear tagging, dehorning, loading, medical operations, vaccinations and hoof care, as well as training for agricultural shows and preparations. Also, some cultural differences occur in working with cattle; the cattle husbandry of Fulani men rests on behavioural techniques, whereas in Europe, cattle are controlled primarily by physical means, such as fences. Breeders use cattle husbandry to reduce M. bovis infection susceptibility by selective breeding and maintaining herd health to avoid concurrent disease.
Cattle are farmed for beef, veal, dairy, and leather, and they are less commonly used for conservation grazing, simply to maintain grassland for wildlife – for example, in Epping Forest, England. They are often used in some of the most wild places for livestock. Depending on the breed, cattle can survive on hill grazing, heaths, marshes, moors and semidesert. Modern cattle are more commercial than older breeds and, having become more specialized, are less versatile. For this reason, many smaller farmers still favor old breeds, such as the Jersey dairy breed. In Portugal, Spain, southern France and some Latin American countries, bulls are used in the activity of bullfighting; Jallikattu in India is a bull taming sport radically different from European bullfighting, humans are unarmed and bulls are not killed. In many other countries bullfighting is illegal. Other activities such as bull riding are seen as part of a rodeo, especially in North America. Bull-leaping, a central ritual in Bronze Age Minoan culture (see Bull (mythology)), still exists in southwestern France. In modern times, cattle are also entered into agricultural competitions. These competitions can involve live cattle or cattle carcases in hoof and hook events.
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. 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.
Further information: Sleep (non-human)
The average sleep time of a domestic cow is about four hours a day.
The meat of adult cattle is known as beef, and that of calves is veal. Other animal parts are also used as food products, including blood, liver, kidney, heart and oxtail. Cattle also produce milk, and dairy cattle are specifically bred to produce the large quantities of milk processed and sold for human consumption. Cattle today are the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. The international trade in beef for 2000 was over $30 billion and represented only 23% of world beef production. The production of milk, which is also made into cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products, is comparable in economic size to beef production, and provides an important part of the food supply for many of the world's people. Cattle hides, used for leather to make shoes, couches and clothing, are another widespread product. Cattle remain broadly used as draft animals in many developing countries, such as India. Cattle are also used in some sporting games, including rodeo and bullfighting.
Cattle meat production
Source: Helgi Library, World Bank, FAOSTAT
About half the world's meat comes from cattle.
Certain breeds of cattle, such as the Holstein-Friesian, are used to produce milk. Which can be processed into dairy products such as milk, cheese or yogurt. Dairy cattle are usually kept on specialized dairy farms designed for milk production. Most cows are milked twice per day, with milk processed at a dairy, which may be onsite at the farm or the milk may be shipped to a dairy plant for eventual sale of a dairy product. For dairy cattle to continue producing milk, they must give birth to one calf per year. If the calf is male, it generally is slaughtered at a young age to produce veal. They will continue to produce milk until three weeks before birth. Over the last fifty years, dairy farming has become more intensive to increase the yield of milk produced by each cow. The Holstein-Friesian is the breed of dairy cow most common in the UK, Europe and the USA. It has been bred selectively to produce the highest yields of milk of any cow. Around 22 litres per day is average in the UK.
Most cattle are not kept solely for hides. Instead, it is a byproduct of beef production. In 2012 India is the world's largest producer of cattle hides. Hides are most commonly used for leather which can be made into a variety of product including shoes.
Feral cattle are defined as being 'cattle that are not domesticated or cultivated'. Populations of feral cattle are known to come from and exist in: Australia, United States of America, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, France and many islands, including New Guinea, Hawaii, Galapagos, Juan Fernández Islands, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Tristan da Cunha and Île Amsterdam.
See also: Environmental effects of meat production
A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that the livestock sector is "responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions". The report concludes, unless changes are made, the damage thought to be linked to livestock may more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases. Another concern is manure, which if not well-managed, can lead to adverse environmental consequences. However, manure also is a valuable source of nutrients and organic matter when used as a fertilizer. Manure was used as a fertilizer on about 15.8 million acres of US cropland in 2006, with manure from cattle accounting for nearly 70% of manure applications to soybeans and about 80% or more of manure applications to corn, wheat, barley, oats and sorghum. Substitution of manure for synthetic fertilizers in crop production can be environmentally significant, as between 43 and 88 megajoules of fossil fuel energy would be used per kg of nitrogen in manufacture of synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers.
One of the cited changes suggested to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is intensification of the livestock industry, since intensification leads to less land for a given level of production. This assertion is supported by studies of the US beef production system, suggesting practices prevailing in 2007 involved 8.6% less fossil fuel use, 16.3% less greenhouse gas emissions, 12.1% less water use, and 33.0% less land use, per unit mass of beef produced, than those used in 1977. However, these numbers included not only feedlots, but also feed production, forage-based cow-calf operations, backgrounding before cattle enter a feedlot, and animals culled from the dairy industry.
The number of American cattle kept in confined feedlot conditions fluctuates. From 1 January 2002 through 1 January 2012, there was no significant overall upward or downward trend in the number of US cattle on feed for slaughter, which averaged about 14.046 million head over that period. Previously, the number had increased; it was 12.453 million in 1985. Cattle on feed (for slaughter) numbered about 14.121 million on 1 January 2012, i.e. about 15.5% of the estimated inventory of 90.8 million US cattle (including calves) on that date. Of the 14.121 million, US cattle on feed (for slaughter) in operations with 1000 head or more were estimated to number 11.9 million. Cattle feedlots in this size category correspond to the regulatory definition of "large" concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for cattle other than mature dairy cows or veal calves. Significant numbers of dairy, as well as beef cattle, are confined in CAFOs, defined as "new and existing operations which stable or confine and feed or maintain for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period more than the number of animals specified" where "[c]rops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility." They may be designated as small, medium and large. Such designation of cattle CAFOs is according to cattle type (mature dairy cows, veal calves or other) and cattle numbers, but medium CAFOs are so designated only if they meet certain discharge criteria, and small CAFOs are designated only on a case-by-case basis.
A CAFO that discharges pollutants is required to obtain a permit, which requires a plan to manage nutrient runoff, manure, chemicals, contaminants, and other wastewater pursuant to the Clean Water Act. The regulations involving CAFO permitting have been extensively litigated. Commonly, CAFO wastewater and manure nutrients are applied to land at agronomic rates for use by forages or crops, and it is often assumed that various constituents of wastewater and manure, e.g. organic contaminants and pathogens, will be retained, inactivated or degraded on the land with application at such rates; however, additional evidence is needed to test reliability of such assumptions . Concerns raised by opponents of CAFOs have included risks of contaminated water due to feedlot runoff, soil erosion, human and animal exposure to toxic chemicals, development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and an increase in E. coli contamination. While research suggests some of these impacts can be mitigated by developing wastewater treatment systems and planting cover crops in larger setback zones, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report in 2008 concluding that CAFOs are generally unsustainable and externalize costs.
An estimated 935,000 cattle operations were operating in the USA in 2010. In 2001, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tallied 5,990 cattle CAFOs then regulated, consisting of beef (2,200), dairy (3,150), heifer (620) and veal operations (20). Since that time, the EPA has established CAFOs as an enforcement priority. EPA enforcement highlights for fiscal year 2010 indicated enforcement actions against 12 cattle CAFOs for violations that included failures to obtain a permit, failures to meet the terms of a permit, and discharges of contaminated water.
Grazing by cattle at low intensities can create a favourable environment for native herbs and forbs; in many world regions, though, cattle are reducing biodiversity due to overgrazing. A survey of refuge managers on 123 National Wildlife Refuges in the US tallied 86 species of wildlife considered positively affected and 82 considered negatively affected by refuge cattle grazing or haying. Proper management of pastures, notably managed intensive rotational grazing and grazing at low intensities can lead to less use of fossil fuel energy, increased recapture of carbon dioxide, fewer ammonia emissions into the atmosphere, reduced soil erosion, better air quality, and less water pollution.
Some microbes in the cattle gut carry out anaerobic process known as methanogenesis, which produces methane. Cattle and other livestock emit about 80 to 93 Tg of methane per year, accounting for an estimated 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions, and additional methane is produced by anaerobic fermentation of manure in manure lagoons and other manure storage structures. The 100-year global warming potential of methane, including effects on ozone and stratospheric water vapor, is 25 times as great as that of carbon dioxide. Methane's effect on global warming is correlated with changes in atmospheric methane content, not with emissions. The net change in atmospheric methane content was recently about 1 Tg per year, and in some recent years there has been no increase in atmospheric methane content. Mitigation options for reducing methane emission from ruminant enteric fermentation include genetic selection, immunization, rumen defaunation, diet modification and grazing management, among others. While cattle fed forage actually produce more methane than grain-fed cattle, the increase may be offset by the increased carbon recapture of pastures, which recapture three times the CO2 of cropland used for grain.
The veterinary discipline dealing with cattle and cattle diseases (bovine veterinary) is called buiatrics. Veterinarians and professionals working on cattle health issues are pooled in the World Association for Buiatrics, founded in 1960. National associations and affiliates also exist.
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.
In most state, as cattle health is not only a veterinarian issue, but also a public health issue, public health and food safety standards and farming regulations directly affect the daily work of farmers who keep cattle. However, said rules change frequently and are often debated. For instance, in the U.K., it was proposed in 2011 that milk from tubercolosis-infected cattle should be allowed to enter the food chain. Internal food safety regulations might affect a country's trade policy as well. For example, the United States has just reviewed its beef import rules according to the "mad cow standards"; while Mexico forbids the entry of cattle who are older than 30 months.
Cow urine is commonly used in India for internal medical purposes. It is distilled and then consumed by patients seeking treatment for a wide variety of illnesses. At present, no conclusive medical evidence shows this has any effect. However, an Indian medicine containing cow urine has already obtained U.S. patents.
Digital dermatitis is caused by the bacteria from the genus Treponema. Is it different than foot rot and can appear under unsanitary conditions such as poor hygiene, inadequate hoof trimming among other causes. It primarily affects dairy cattle and has been known to lower the quantity of milk produced, however the milk quality remains unaffected.
Main article: Ox
Oxen (singular ox) are cattle trained as draft animals. Often they are adult, castrated males of larger breeds, although females and bulls are also used in some areas. Usually, an ox is over four years old due to the need for training and to allow it to grow to full size. Oxen are used for plowing, transport, hauling cargo, grain-grinding by trampling or by powering machines, irrigation by powering pumps, and wagon drawing. Oxen were commonly used to skid logs in forests, and sometimes still are, in low-impact, select-cut logging. Oxen are most often used in teams of two, paired, for light work such as carting, with additional pairs added when more power is required, sometimes up to a total of 20 or more.
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::
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.
Many oxen are used worldwide, especially in developing countries. About 11.3 million draft oxen are used in sub-Saharan Africa. In India, the number of draft cattle in 1998 was estimated at 65.7 million head. About half the world's crop production is thought to depend on land preparation (such as plowing) made possible by animal traction.
Religion, traditions and folklore
Main article: Cattle in religion
Further information: Cattle slaughter in India
Cattle are venerated within the Hindu religion of India. According to Vedic scriptures they are to be treated with the same respect 'as one's mother'. They appear in numerous stories from the Puranas and Vedas. The deity Krishna was brought up in a family of cowherders, and given the name Govinda (protector of the cows). Also, Shiva is traditionally said to ride on the back of a bull named Nandi.
Slaughter of cows (including oxen, bulls and calves) is forbidden by law in several states of the Indian Union. McDonalds outlets in India do not serve any beef burgers. At one time, the death sentence was imposed for killing a cow in India. According to a Lodi News-Sentinel news story written in the 1960s, in then contemporary Nepal an individual could serve three months in jail for killing a pedestrian, but one year for injuring a cow, and life imprisonment for killing a cow.
Cattle are typically represented in heraldry by the bull.
See also: Ciołek coat of arms
As of 2003[update], the continent of Africa has about 231 million head of cattle, raised in both traditional and non-traditional systems, but are often an "integral" part of the culture and way of life.