cows grazing, cows eating grass

Do all Cows Have Udders? (Some Interesting Facts)

By Dairy Farming Hut

Cows

It looks like an obvious issue, but maybe even the information you have is wrong. Especially if you assume all cows have udders or followed several animations that depict bulls and other male cattle having seemingly similar teats as cows. Here are the interesting facts regarding which cows have udders and various distinguishing features.

Do All Female Cows Have Udders?

All female cows can have udders, but not all will have visible udders, depending on their age and reproductive state. Because udders develop as an organ to produce milk to feed the cows’ young ones, only certain cows will have visible udders. These are cows who have at least one calf or those who are pregnant.

On the other hand, infertile cows, known as Freemartins, and heifers (cows that are yet to have a calf and are not pregnant) and female calves will not have udders. All they will have are teats which you can see from the underside.

Do Non-Dairy or beef Cows Have Udders?

Non-diary and beef cows are only kept for their meat. This reason is either because of the cost of raising young ones or because they produce little milk to be considered profitable. Also, most male beef cattle are usually castrated, leaving no chance for the cows to get pregnant.

As a result, a non-dairy or beef cow will not have a visible udder because it most likely won’t get pregnant. However, should the non-dairy and beef cows get pregnant, they will develop an udder in readiness to feed the calf when it is born.

Do Male Cows Have Udders?

No, male cows do not have udders because they cannot get pregnant, just like the males of other mammals. As such, they do not develop mammary glands to feed their young ones because they do not have that natural ability. The development of udders is a function of hormones not present in male cows; thus, they cannot have them in any circumstances.

Do Male Cows Have Nipples?

Male cows have nipples, which is true for all of them, whether castrated, young, or adult uncastrated male cows. Their nipples are, however, not as prominent as the teats for female cows, and they could be hard to spot. Their nipples are located at their rear legs in roughly the same position that an udder would be for female cows.

Do Baby Cows Have Udders?

As already mentioned above, baby cows can’t have an udder. That’s because udders only develop during pregnancy and remain after childbirth. It takes about 12 to 18 months for a cow to reach puberty, which is when it can become pregnant or impregnate another. Female baby calves cannot have an udder until this period, and that is only if they get pregnant.

Since they cannot get pregnant before puberty, no female baby calves will have an udder, only teats. On the other hand, male baby cows will not have udder even if they reach puberty level because of their sex which does not allow for the development of udders. They will also have less prominent nipples compared to their female baby cow counterparts.

The quickest way to determine gender

There are many ways you can tell a cow’s gender by looking at the physical traits. However, you should not rely on aspects such as horns and colors since they can be misleading. The easiest way is to have a side view of the animal. For female cows, you will spot an udder or prominent teats in their rear end.

While for male cows, you will notice a scrotum, and there will also be a shaft area for their male reproductive organ on the underside. Females have their external reproductive organs at the back, under the tail, and below the anus.

How to identify a bull, steer, heifer, and cow?

While sex is the main division across cows, they have different names and identities across their ages and their breeding purposes. The common distinctions and their identifying aspects are;

A Bull

A bull is a mature male bovine (general term for cattle of all sexes) with its testicles intact. It is usually two years old and above, and it is not castrated since it is kept for breeding purposes as it has desired characteristics. It is easy to identify a bull first because of the huge testicles between the two hind legs and secondly because of the penis in the navel area.

Other physical aspects will make you identify the bull in a herd. Bulls have muscular shoulders, hindquarters, and necks, which make them larger than other cattle. They also often have a noticeable hump between the shoulders.

Mature bulls can weigh up to 2000 pounds, and it only takes about 15 months for young bulls to reach half this weight. Temperamentally, bulls are more aggressive than other cattle because of the vast amounts of testosterone hormones in the body that give them their distinctive masculine attributes. Statistically, a bull will sire more calves during its life than a cow.

Steers

Steers are male bovine raised for meat. The distinctive aspect between them and bulls is that steers are castrated when they are still young, and bulls do not get castrated. As such, steers do not have testicles, and they will not develop the masculine physical characteristics of a bull.

 These attributes include massive shoulders and neck. They are also less aggressive compared to bulls and have a more feminine look.

You can distinguish them from the bulls by their size or simply by checking between the legs. They will have a scrotum sac, but it will be smaller than a bull’s since it does not have testes.

It may be easy to confuse them with heifers, too, because they both do not have either an udder or hanging testes. You can use their sex organs to tell them apart.

Heifers

Heifers are young female cattle under the age of one to two years that have finished weaning. They have not given birth to any calves nor gotten pregnant, so they do not have a developed udder. They can be used both for breeding or raised for meat. When compared to adult cows, they lack a visible udder instead of having small teats.

They also do not have features like thick middles or prominent hips. You can differentiate them from any male cattle by their lack of a penis or testicles. Once they give birth, they become cows, and Heifers that are pregnant are called springers.

Cows

Cows are adult female bovine that has given birth to at least one calf. They are kept for their milk, so they are often breeding. Their distinguishing feature is the udder, which is fully developed and visible from any angle.

It differentiates them from all other cattle, including heifers. Other distinguishing attributes of a cow are a seemingly angular shape that starts with lean shoulders, then a thick chest, and large hips.

Conclusion

Not all cows have udders, as it is a development that comes with a cow’s pregnancy. Thus, only pregnant cows and those who have given birth have them. Bulls, steers, and male calves can never have udders because they can never get pregnant.

On the other hand, cows that are not kept for dairy or beef cows will not develop them as they are not allowed to breed.


Sources:

https://www.farmanddairy.com/top-stories/how-to-determine-if-cattle-are-bulls-steers-cows-or-heifers/274534.html

https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_b/B212/welcome.html



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