farm friday – cow vs. heifer vs. bull. vs. steer

Happy Friday!  (And Valentine’s Day if you choose to celebrate that “holiday.”)

I am staring a weekly series called “Farm Fridays.”  With this series of posts, I am going to confess some of the thousands of agriculture related questions I had for my farmer when getting to know him and his operation.  (I am sure there will be many more in the future too!)  I grew up in Iowa, my grandfather was a farmer, my cousins grew up on the farm, and I had spent time of farms, so I thought I was pretty agriculturally savvy.  Turns out . . . I had a lot to learn!

Look at all the cows!

My farmer is a cattleman.  He feeds cattle twice a day so that they turn into delicious steak.  The first time I visited the farm I think the dialogue went a bit like this:

Me:  Wow, look at all the cows.  How many are there?

J:  Well those aren’t cows.

Me:  They sure look like cows to me.

J:  They are heifers.

Me:  Isn’t that just a kind of cow?

J:  Let me explain . . . <<insert ramblings on the difference between cows, heifers, steers, and bulls here>>. 

I am neither the first nor last person in the world to think that all animals that look like cows are cows.  Thanks to J’s lecturing, I can now give you a high level summary in layman’s terms:

  • Cow – A female bovine who has baby calves.  She is the mama you see in the rolling pastures.
  • Heifer – A female bovine that hasn’t had any babies.  This is one type of cattle fed at our farm.
  • Steer – A male bovine that has had his testicles removed (for a good reason I will explain someday).  These guys are also fed on our farm.
  • Bulls – A male bovine with everything intact.  He breeds the cows.  He’s pretty important and knows it.

If you are REALLY interested.  WikiHow has a great entry on this topic.

I still slip from time to time and call them cows.  I try to be on my best behavior around other farmers so that they don’t catch on that I am a total novice.  I am not convinced it has worked.

heifers or steers is the question here.

heifers or steers is the question here.

Side Note:  During the penning of this post, I looked out my window and saw a heifer running down the driveway toward the road.  As I am getting the hang of this farm wife thing, I knew I needed to take immediate action.  I got up from my desk before my husband could summon me out.  I quickly put on my boots and coat and went outside.  There was definitely a situation happening.  I did the only thing I could, close the gates to make sure no one else was leaving the farm.  However, as quickly as I closed the gates, the loan heifer wanted back in.  Oops!  I felt like I did the wrong thing, but J assured be that I did a good job and he was proud.  I guess I can do this after all!


6 thoughts on “farm friday – cow vs. heifer vs. bull. vs. steer

  1. Pingback: farm fridays – the daily routine. | A Whole New World.

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  3. Pingback: farm friday – 5 thoughts for iowa’s newest farm fiancé. | A Whole New World.

  4. Pingback: farm friday – farm wifeing | A Whole New World.

  5. Pingback: farm friday – new additions on the farm. | A Whole New World.

  6. Pingback: farm friday: who let the calves out? | A Whole New World.

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