What Is the Difference Between Ox and Cow?

What Is the Difference Between Ox and Cow?

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In the Middle East around 8000 years B.C., cattle have been domesticated. Cattle are raised around the world for meat and milk, and in some areas, they are still used as working animals.

The main difference between a cow and an ox is that a cow is a female, and an ox is a male. While some cows can be trained as oxen, cows are preserved for producing milk. Male oxen are used as working animals because they are physically larger and stronger than females. 

Cattle are raised all around the world. Since the Bovidae are herbivores they are extremely similar. A lot of people, especially kids, don’t know the differences between most of them, and they don’t know how to use terminology properly. Terminology is determined by sex and age of cattle. Most kids don’t know the difference between an ox and a cow. To know how diverse they are, we must look at their main characteristics.

About Cows

The sexually mature female of domestic cattle is called a cow and it is one the most common farm animal in the world. The cow was domesticated first for meat, and later because of the milk and their power used for towing.

Domestic cattle are bred in a very large number of different breeds. In doing so, the breeds are the result of a targeted selection of animals that mate with each other to produce offspring of certain traits. Breeds have been developed by targeting mating of parent animals with certain traits, to systematically enhance the desired traits in the offspring. In doing so, two main directions followed, increasing the amount of milk and increasing the quantity and quality of meat. 

Cows are incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and sensitive animals, one of the “gentle giants” of the world. Despite weighing 700 kilograms, they have no instinct to hunt or hurt people. They have a great sense of smell and hearing and can register much lower and higher frequencies than those known to the human ear. Interestingly, these animals have a panoramic view that covers a range of 360 degrees.

Cows are ruminant animals, which means their digestive system is specialized in processing food humans would have a hard time digesting. All cattle have one stomach with 4 compartments that help them process food and gain nutrients. Cows are also known for re-chewing their food, like most ruminant animals. When a cow is eating, she will swallow grass without chewing it, and that food stores in the rumen – the first part of their stomach. After some time, food climbs up to the mouth where it’s chewed again.

The temperament of cows has been labeled as multidimensional. They are mostly calm, unbothered, and curious. Their behavior also depends on how often they interact with people. The environment in which they find themselves can also affect their mood. Those cows that are bred for milk are prone more to aggression than cows bred for beef.

They have a natural fear of the unknown, and they don’t like changes. They are most calm and comfortable when they have a routine. Their negative emotions are connected to forcible changes in routine or environment, and when they feel threatened. Cows will also turn to aggressiveness to protect their calves because their maternal instinct is very strong. 

Temperamental cows are more likely to spend their time analyzing their surroundings than eating, which can result in weight loss. When a cow is comfortable in a herd, she can become bold, more active, and social. Cows don’t shy away from exploration, but with extreme caution. They will startle to loud noises and unexpected movements. 

 Cows are herd animals and are very similar to a pack of wolves. They have order and social dynamics. Each cow can recognize more than 50 members of the herd. Choosing their leaders, they maintain relationships in a herd. If cows are raised in crowded feedlots, they are more likely to be distressed, because it doesn’t have a hierarchy.

If raised right, cows can be very friendly and gentle. They require proper care. Their emotional state affects their health, which means that it can affect human health as well.

About Ox

The ox is a domesticated animal trained as a draft animal and is widespread throughout the world. Today’s domesticated cattle originally came from Anatolia and the Middle East. The ox as a domestic animal initially served only as food, while goats, sheep, and cows were used to supply secondary products, like milk and cheese. Not long after that, the ox became the first working animal.

An ox is a castrated adult cattle. Castration means that the testicles of a bull are removed surgically to calm their aggressive nature. Hundreds of years ago, castrated bulls did the hardest jobs for humans. To this day, their animals are bred mainly for slaughter. This procedure is done on calves that do not go further for breeding purposes. Castration is usually performed up to six months of age.

A procedure performed at such an early stage helps the young body to best adapt to hormonal changes. In oxen, the body begins to develop more proportionately than in bulls, and the spine becomes much lighter. Thus, an even distribution of fat in all parts of the body ensures a proportional increase in the weight of the oxen. Good meat contains 2 times more fat than uncastrated individuals. This happens because the operation stops the production of hormones, which results in a reduction of metabolic processes in the body.

They are working animals trained for plowing, transport, and pulling wagons and carts. An ox is a bull whose semen stops releasing. Castrated animals have thicker, straight legs. Their knee joints are quite strong and their hooves bulky and thick. The lower the thoracic bone of the spine and the deeper the chest, the lungs in the chest are more massive, which is a sign of a healthy ox.

Such animals can carry huge loads, and very high-quality meat can be produced from them. For example, a well-developed ox has a long and heavy head with a muscular, moderately protruding neck. They are naturally larger than females and their training begins at an early age. 

Their most famous characteristic is a calm temperament. They have to respond to commands and be ready for work day after day. Given the hard physical work they perform, they need to be well-fed and cared for after work. They are trained very young, learning to recognize verbal commands (go, stop, left, and right) and tactile commands (patting on back). After some time, an ox can even read body language and understands noise commands. 

Even though they are slower than horses, they can pull heavier weight and work for a longer time. They are most suitable for agricultural work. 

The difference between Ox and Cow

Both of these animals are members of the subfamily Bovinae. The first and most significant difference is that a cow is a female, and an ox is a male. To be called a female, a cow should be 4 years old and given birth to at least one calf. An ox is a castrated bull. 

Both of them can be raised for meat, but it’s mostly reserved for cows. Oxen are trained as draft animals, used for agriculture work, plowing, and pulling carts. Although not very common, bulls, and even cows, can also perform these same functions. 

Oxen are also more intelligent than cows, because of their training. Oxen know how to respond to verbal and tactile commands, while cows aren’t trained to follow them. On the other hand, cows are known for grazing (feeding on grass). By physical appearance, an ox builds more muscle mass and is overly larger than a cow. Cows generally don’t have developed muscles.  

Cows are mostly raised to produce milk, so a distinctive physical characteristic is that it has an udder. It is a single mass hanging beneath the cow, and it’s the main organ for producing milk. Cows can also do roles of an ox, but since it’s smaller and not as strong as an ox, they can get tired easily, since their body’s energy is focused on producing milk.

For pulling carts, an ox can do individual work, but for heavy loads, usually, two oxen are paired to do the job. If a heavier load needs to be carried, sometimes 9 or 10 oxen are needed. 

The important role that a cow fulfills is giving birth to calves, a role which an ox can’t do. Also, oxen can’t produce milk, because they don’t have the organs to do so. Since oxen are castrated, they cannot be used as breeding animals.

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