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Do cows have horns? You may be surprised to learn that this is not a yes or no question. Cows can, in fact, have horns, but it is not common for them to do so. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that cows even have horns at all, especially female cows!
So why do bulls and female cows have horns? And what do they use them for? We’re here to answer these questions and several others around this topic.
Do female cows have horns?
Certain breeds of female cows do have horns. The reason we rarely notice a cow with horns is because ranchers remove them primarily for safety reasons.
Why do most ranchers remove horns?
The main reason is to protect ranchers who raise bulls and female cows as the damage from the horns can be extremely serious. Secondly, cattle 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, ranchers try to prevent this.
Additionally, ranchers 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 ranchers 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.
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.
Breeds of cattle with horns
There are a lot of types of female cows with horns alongside them. We are not going to mention every one of them as it will take a 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.
- 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 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.
- Texas Longhorns are famous for their very long horns. Their horns can grow up to 100 inches, which makes them the biggest ever recorded amongst the cattle. Female cow’s horns are usually a bit smaller compared to bulls, but 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.
Breeds of cattle without horns
It has to be mentioned, that some types of female 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.
Breeds that are naturally polled:
- Red Poll
- Speckle Park
- American White
- British White Park
Does gender play a role in developing horns?
Gender does not play a role in developing horns. They are genetic and natural characteristics owned by both male and female breeds. However, they are typically a bit smaller in cows.
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).
What’s the difference between disbudding and dehorning
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.
What is the record for biggest horns?
The biggest set of Texas Longhorn horns ever recorded was 129.5 inches which is 3.29 meters long.