Farming Base (farmingbase.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.
Generally, the word “cow” refers to different kinds of animals such as whales, seals, elephants, but most often we use it to describe female cattle. Therefore, we should note that every cow is female. Oftentimes people mistakenly assume that the horns on these animals are gender attributes and only male cattle called bulls can have them. However, we are here to debunk this statement and answer several questions around this topic starting from the main one – can female cows have horns?
Cows have horns. It is a genetic characteristic for both male and female cattle. However, horns in female cows are usually smaller compared to bulls. The reason why we can hardly notice a cow with horns nowadays is because farmers remove them for various purposes.
Needless to say, every animal has horns for a reason and evolution gave this attribute to them in order to defend themselves from predators. Nowadays, when humans started domesticating cattle, they decide to remove horns for practical and safety reasons. In this article, we will provide detailed information regarding different types of cows and answer some important questions. Let’s start!
Do cows have horns?
As we have already mentioned, horns are genetic qualities of cattle including males and females. Naturally, they are a bit smaller in cows, so it can be hard to notice sometimes. However, we rarely see cows with horns today because farmers decide to remove them for different purposes.
The main reason obviously is to protect people who have to take care of them as the damage from the horns can be extremely serious to the human body. Secondly, they often fight amongst each other which is their natural instinct and the horns are their fighting weapons. Their fights can be fatal as well and may end up with death. Therefore, farmers try to prevent this.
Additionally, farmers often encounter cows stuck in fences and feed gates with their horns, this usually causes them to start panicking and might result in more damage.
These are the reasons why farmers decide to get rid of the horns. This process is called “dehorning” and it is performed usually when the calf is one or two months old. They burn the bud of the horn which prevents it from growing.
Although they give painkillers to calves, every farmer agrees that it is the most hated task on the farm and not a single person enjoys doing it. However, it’s a necessary and obligatory procedure in order to defend not only people but other cows and facilities as well.
It has to be mentioned, that some types of cows are naturally hornless. This means that dehorning can be carried out genetically by breeding a polled cow and bull to a horned cow and bull as the calf most likely will come out as hornless.
These breeds that are naturally polled include Red Poll, Angus, Speckle Park, American White, and British White Park. They will never have horned cattle.
What type of cows has horns?
We have already noted above that horns are found in both gender and it is a genetic attribute acquired through evolution. However, what you need to know is that not every type of cow has horns and we are talking about naturally polled ones here.
We would like to list the types of female cows with horns –
- Santa Gertrudis
- Guernsey is a breed of dairy cattle that is named after one of the Channel Islands. Its horns are usually short and they are mainly known for its golden-yellow colored milk that is high in protein and rich in flavors.
- Holstein-Friesian stands out by its large size and white and black colored body. This breed comes from the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Northern Holland and they are considered to be the world’s highest production dairy animals.
- Jersey – This breed is relatively small compared to others and their horns are short as well. They have originated in Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands. There are various colored Jersey cattle and they are believed to give 10 times more milk per lactation than their own weight.
- Santa Gertrudis is a breed of beef cattle whose main characteristic is a deep red color. They were developed in the 20th century in southern Texas on the King Ranch by mating Brahman bulls with Beef Shorthorn cows.
- Shorthorn, also known as Durham is a beef cattle as well that was originated in the late 18th century in the North East of England. It was developed through selective breeding for both beef and dairy purposes.
- Ayrshire is a breed of dairy cattle and they usually have red and white markings. It is believed to be the only dairy breed that originated in the British Isles. They are famous for their toughness and the ability to produce milk effortlessly.
There are a lot of types of cows with horns alongside them. We are not going to mention
every one of them as it will take a big time and space. We want to give you a proper
understanding that not every type of cow is born with horns and there are only specific
types of cattle with these genetic features.
Do dairy cows have horns?
Yes, they do. We have already answered this question above and even listed some breeds of dairy cows with horns. We also talked about the reasons why people often ask this question as probably they have never seen a dairy cow with horns.
As we have highlighted, horns are natural and genetic traits in both male and female cattle. As for the dairy cows, it’s a well-known tradition in the farms to remove the horns a few weeks after the calf is born.
This is done by either disbudding or dehorning. In order to properly understand the procedures, we need to define those two terms. Disbudding is destroying horn-producing cells of the horn bud by chemicals or hot iron. Dehorning is removing horns after they have grown from the bud.
Farmers are trying everything to reduce the pain of the process and everyone admits that it is one of the hardest jobs on the farm. They use different medications in order to minimize the pain and ensure the safety of the whole process.
There are several reasons causing this procedure such as –
- Reduce the risk of harming farmers
- Decrease the risk of injuring other cows
- Reduce the financial costs of fixing damaged carcasses
- Hornless cattle cost way more at auction than horned one
As you can see farmers have various intentions for dehorning dairy cows and it is a necessary procedure on every farm. The reasons are mainly for safety and it should be the number one priority for everyone.
Do female Longhorns have horns?
You have probably heard about the breed called Texas Longhorn or seen an image of it somewhere. They are a very famous breed of cattle for their significant attribute – very long horns that can grow even 100 inches. So as the name itself says, the female Longhorns do have horns and they are the biggest ever recorded amongst the cattle.
They are originated from the first cattle introduced to the Americans by Christopher Columbus and Spanish colonists, making them very old. It’s not entirely clear to historians how they have extended their horns, but some believe the horns come from English longhorn Herefords.
One more distinctive characteristic of Texas Longhorns compared to other breeds is their various colored body. Some researchers even stated that their colors are more varied than the rainbow. It’s hard to find the same colored two Texas Longhorn cows.
As we have already noted, they have the longest horns among every cattle. It can extend over 100 inches and the biggest one ever recorded is 129.5 inches which is 3.29 meters long. Although the cow’s horns are usually a bit smaller compared to bulls, they have more varied shapes and sizes. Naturally, the calf begins to grow the horn at the age of 3 weeks and the process continues throughout its life.
You should know that gender does not play a role in developing horns in cattle. They are genetic and natural characteristics owned by both male and female breeds. However, they are a bit smaller in cows.
Due to several reasons, farmers are constantly removing horns out of calves a few weeks after they are born. Therefore, it is almost impossible to see a horned cow nowadays which leads to some wrong assumptions among people.
Why do they cut horns off cows?
Dehorning involves the removal of horns from livestock. It is important to remove cow horns because they can pose a danger to humans, other animals and the cows themselves (horns can catch on fences or prevent feeding).
Do Jersey cows have horns?
Jersey cows all have horns. The only exception would be if it was a crossbreed, and the other half was a polled animal since the poll gene is dominant.