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September 12, 2023

What Is a Cow?

A cow is a mature female bovine (Bos taurus). They have become a vital part of human civilization, exploited for their secretions and for meat. The word cow also can mean any large female mammal, such as elephants or whales, or it can refer to a person who browbeats others into submission.

Mature males are called bulls, and heifers are young female cows. The term cow can be used to refer to any breed of domestic or wild cattle, but it most commonly applies to those that are bred to produce milk and other dairy products and then later slaughtered for meat. The word is also used to describe other large ungulates, such as moose, water buffalo, and four-horned and spiral-horned antelopes.

Domestic cattle have been selectively bred to emphasize useful traits such as milk and meat production, strength, and calving ease. As a result, many different varieties of cattle, or breeds, exist. Cows have long been important to human culture and are considered sacred in some religions.

A cow is a grazing animal that feeds on grass and other plants. Their wide mouths and specialized teeth allow them to chew tough vegetation. They spend much of their time chewing cud, which is regurgitated, partially digested food.