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.Van Vuure, C.T. 2003. De Oeros – Het spoor terug (in Dutch), Cis van Vuure, Wageningen University and Research Centrum: quoted by The Extinction Website: Bos primigenius primigenius. Breeders have attempted to recreate cattle of similar appearance to aurochs by crossing traditional types of domesticated cattle, creating the Heck cattle breed.
The word "cow" came via Anglo-Saxon cū (plural cȳ), from Common Indo-European (genitive ) = "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 of "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.
"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. Collins Language.com
, more general nonspecific terms may denote cattle when a singular form is needed. , 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.
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. The bullroarer makes a sound similar to a bull's territorial call.
Cattle are , 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 "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 reswallowed and further digested by specialised in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other into volatile fatty acids cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel. The microbes inside the rumen also synthesize from non-protein 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.
Having two kinds of color receptors in the cone cells in their , cattle are dichromatic, as are most other non-primate land mammals.Jacobs, G. H., J. F.Deegan, and J. Neitz. 1998. Photopigment basis for dichromatic color vision in cows, goats and sheep. Vis. Neurosci. 15:581–584Perception of Color by Cattle and its Influence on Behavior C.J.C. Phillips* and C. A. Lomas†2 J. Dairy Sci. 84:807–813
Bulls will always be a bit larger than cows by a few extra hundred pounds. Chianina bulls can weigh up to ; British bulls, such as Angus and Hereford, can weigh as little as to as much as .
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 . Finishing steers in the feedlot average about ; cows about , and bulls about .
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 , 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 . 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 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), 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.Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life, 2003, Vintage Books, 256 pages ISBN 0-679-76811-4 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.
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.Capper, J. L. 2011. The environmental impact of beef production in the United States: 1977 compared with 2007. J. Anim. Sci. 89: 4249-4261 However, these numbers included not only , but also feed production, forage-based , 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 January 1, 2002 through January 1, 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.USDA. 2011. Agricultural Statistics 2011. US Government Printing Office, Washington. 509 pp. Table 7.6.USDA. 2012. Cattle. http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/Catt/Catt-01-27-2012.pdf Previously, the number had increased; it was 12.453 million in 1985.USDA 1994. Agricultural Statistics 1994. US Government Printing Office, Washington. 485 pp. Table 377. Cattle on feed (for slaughter) numbered about 14.121 million on January 1, 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.US Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR 122.23 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 "crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility."US Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR 122 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.US Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR 122.23, 40 CFR 122.42 The regulations involving CAFO permitting have been extensively litigated. Pork Producers Council v epa&hl=en&as_sdt=2,27&as_vis=1 See, e.g., Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA, 399 F.3d 486 (2nd cir. 2005); National Pork Producers Council, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 635 F. 3d 738 (5th Cir. 2011). 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 .Bradford, S. A., E. Segal, W. Zheng, Q. Wang, and S. R. Hutchins. 2008. Reuse of concentrated animal feeding operation wastewater on agricultural lands. J. Env. Qual. 37 (supplement): S97-S115. 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.USDA. 2011. Agricultural Statistics 2011. US Government Printing Office, Washington. 509 pp. Table 7.1. 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).EPA. 2001. Environmental and economic benefit analysis of proposed revisions to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Regulation and the effluent guidelines for concentrated animal feeding operations. US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-821-R-01-002. 157 pp. 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 and ; in many world regions, though, cattle are reducing biodiversity due to overgrazing.E.O. Wilson, The Future of Life, 2003, Vintage Books, 256 pages ISBN 067976811 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.Strassman, B. I. 1987. Effects of cattle grazing and haying on wildlife conservation at National Wildlife Refuges in the United States. Environmental Mgt. 11: 35-44 . 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 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,IPCC. 2001. Third Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Working Group I: The Scientific Basis. Table 4.2 accounting for an estimated 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions, and additional methane is produced by anaerobic fermentation of manure in and other manure storage structures.US EPA. 2012. Inventory of U.S. greenhouse gase emissions and sinks: 1990–2010. US. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 430-R-12-001. Section 6.2. 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.IPCC. 2007. Fourth Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 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,IPCC. 2007. Fourth Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. and in some recent years there has been no increase in atmospheric methane content.Dlugokencky, E. J. et al. 2011. Global atmospheric methane: budget, changes and dangers. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. 369: 2058–2072. Mitigation options for reducing methane emission from ruminant enteric fermentation include genetic selection, immunization, rumen defaunation, diet modification and grazing management, among others.Boadi, D. et al. 2004. Mitigation strategies to reduce enteric methane emissions from dairy cows: Update review . Can. J. Anim. Sci. 84: 319-335.Martin, C. et al. 2010. Methane mitigation in ruminants: from microbe to the farm scale. Animal 4 : pp 351-365.Eckard, R. J. et al. 2010. Options for the abatement of methane and nitrous oxide from ruminant production: A review. Livestock Science 130: 47-56. 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.
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 got U.S. patents.
Mycobacterium vaccae is a non pathogenic, possibly even beneficial bacteria, that is seen naturally in soil; that was first isolated from cow dung.
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::
Many oxen are used worldwide, especially in developing countries. About 11.3 million draft oxen are used in sub-Saharan Africa.Muruvimi, F. and J. Ellis-Jones. 1999. A farming systems approach to improving draft animal power in Sub-Saharan Africa. In: Starkey, P. and P. Kaumbutho. 1999. Meeting the challenges of animal traction. Intermediate Technology Publications, London. pp. 10-19. In India, the number of draft cattle in 1998 was estimated at 65.7 million head.Phaniraja, K. L. and H. H. Panchasara. 2009. Indian draught animals power. Veterinary World 2:404-407. About half the world's crop production is thought to depend on land preparation (such as plowing) made possible by animal traction.Nicholson, C. F, R. W. Blake, R. S. Reid and J. Schelhas. 2001. Environmental impacts of livestock in the developing world. Environment 43(2): 7-17.
Observant Hindus, though they might eat meat of other animals, almost always abstain from beef, and the slaughter of cows is considered a heinous sin in mainstream Orthodox Hinduism. 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.
, 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.http://www.nepad-caadp.net/pdf/A0586e03.pdf
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