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Fair E-tales

Having taken on the Waukesha County Fair, intrepid Lake Country Publications/NOW reporter Megan Sukovich now takes us on the tilt-a-whirlwind adventure that is the 2014 Wisconsin State Fair.

Cattle 101

Wisconsin, America’s dairy land, is home to 1,271,000 dairy cows. Most cheese state natives grew up seeing farmlands outside every city. We see the pastures on the way to work, or smell the manure while walking the dog. Cows are a major part of living in Wisconsin, but how well do we know the cow? Though they are our neighbors, I have found that we barely know them at all. Let’s take a closer look at Wisconsin’s honorary state domestic animal.

It’s important to define some terms to know the basic differences between the many different types of cattle.

  • Bovine: general term relating to cows or cattle
  • Cattle: general term referring to more than one bovine
  • Cow: a female bovine that has given birth to at least one calf and produces milk. Cow is the colloquial term for cattle
  • Bull: a male bovine used for breeding purposes
  • Steer: a male bovine that has been castrated after or upon reaching sexual maturity and is used primarily for beef
  • Heifer: a female bovine that is below three years of age and that has not had a calf yet. She can be pregnant with the calf and still be considered a heifer, but after birth of the calf, she becomes a cow
  • Ox: a bovine that is trained for work. An ox can be both male and female
  • Calf: immature bovine that can be male or female

Despite common misconception, horns do not represent the gender or type of animal. Both females and males can be horned and polled. Polled cattle are cattle without horns and generally tend to be less aggressive. The best way to determine gender is to look between the legs and see if an udder to generate milk is present. If there is an udder, it is a cow.

Think you got it? Test your cattle knowledge and then some with the Ultimate Cattle Quiz. If you just want to marvel and moo at the cow and all its wonder, check out this BuzzFeed post, “21 Reasons Why Cows are Actually Awesome”



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