Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

November 4, 2020

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka speaks about cows and the ways they have to be taken care of

By Maneka Gandhi

Do cows get lonely?

Yes, cows do get lonely. Cows are herding animals and it is best for them to have a friend.

What is the average amount of water a cow will consume in a day?

Water intake depends on the body weight or size and productivity (growth, gestating, lactating) of the animal, salinity of the feed, the environment (especially temperature), and other less important factors. Cattle drink anywhere from 8% to over 12% of their body weight in water per day. Big cows need more than small cows, and cattle on saltier feed need more than cattle on low-salt feeds. A milking dairy cow drinks about 90 litres of water each day. During periods of heat stress water intake may double.

How long can a cow live for?

Cows can live for 15 to 20 years.

Do cows need shelter from the rain?

Animals need a shelter from heavy rain, winds or hail, as well as the extreme heat of the mid-day sun.

Should mung beans be soaked in water prior to feeding the cattle?

They can eat them as it is, no soaking is needed.

Do cows eat grass or are they fed grain?

Cows have evolved over millions of years to eat almost nothing but grass. Grains are hard for cows to digest and lead to chronic digestive problems. But dairy people feed their cows grains because the cows are confined and have no access to fields or grass.

Do cows remember faces?

Cows have great memories and are very good at remembering and recognising faces, even after long periods of time. Cows also have good spatial memory. They can remember where things are located, such as food, water, shelter, best grazing spots and most importantly, the location of their babies.

Do cows feel the cold?

A cow’s normal average body temperature is 102 degrees, so they prefer temperatures between 40-60 degrees. In the winter, cows thick skin and hair is a natural insulator that protects them from the bitter cold. Their hairy coat grows longer and thicker in the winter. With a good winter coat, cattle will perform normally until temperatures drop below freezing, assuming no wind.


Why do cows moo at night?

Cows moo at night because they are trying to find their friends. When cows change environments, like moving from one farm to another, they will moo to try to connect with their friends as they figure out their new surroundings.

Do cows mourn?

Cows mourn the deaths of, and even separation from those they love, sometimes shedding tears over their loss.

How do cows communicate?

Cows and their calves communicate using calls. Two distinct maternal calls can be identified — low sounds when a mother was close to her calf, and louder, higher pitched calls when they were out of visual contact.

Can cows see in the dark?

Yes, cows can see in the dark. The light-reflecting surface located behind the retina, called the tapetum lucidum, helps cow see better in the dark. 

How do I keep my calves happy in their shed?

Provide maximum air flow; Protect from weather elements, including sun in summer months; Allow warmth from sun in the winter months; Allow calves easy access to feed and water; Allow for easy cleaning and sanitising.

Do cows sleep standing up?

Cows only sleep lightly while standing up, and they are easily awakened. They lie down to sleep deeply. 

Do cows like music?

Cows are drawn towards music. Not only do cows seem attracted to music, they stick around, listen and seem to be quite absorbed.

How to treat a calf showing signs of dehydration?

Use an effective oral electrolyte solution and make sure you’re giving enough fluids.

How do you take care of a new-born calf?

Keep the calf warm, as calves are highly susceptible to chills and hypothermia, particularly right after birth when they are still wet and may be born in cold, wet, or windy conditions. A wet calf is a chilly calf, and keeping them dry is essential for keeping them warm. Always keep the surrounding near the calf clean, so that there is no propagation of microbes and viruses, and always monitor nursing.


Why do calves cough?

Coughing and nasal discharge is also a sign of pneumonia; however, this can also be a sign of poor ventilation and “stale” air. A calf that is coughing without a fever, or any change in respiratory rate, may just need fresh air and not antibiotics.

What are clinical signs of pneumonia in claves?

Acute pneumonia is usually noticed as a reduction in feeding by the calf, dull demeanour, dropping of the head, increased respiratory rate, nasal discharge and/or a cough along with a pyrexia (elevated temperature).

What type of bedding is recommended for calves?

Calves need a bedding material that they can nest into, typically wheat or oat straw to be able to conserve body heat, so, depth of bedding is important. Top quality wood shavings, wood chips, and wheat or oat straw are also very good absorbent bedding materials.

Are high pitched noises unpleasant to cattle?

High pitched noise is unpleasant to cows. Cattle are very sensitive to high frequency sounds and have a wider range of hearing than humans (a human’s auditory range is from 64 to 23000 Hz, and cattle from 23 to 35 000 Hz).

How can you detect that your cow is in pain?

Stances indicating pain may include a tucked abdomen and tail, hunched back, or standing still for extended periods of time. Abnormal gait can include unusual walking patterns or uneven weight-bearing, as seen when a cow is suffering from lameness. Unusual resting behaviours — Lying with legs in an unusual position and a hesitation to rise when lying may indicate pain.


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