Why Do Cows Moo? 7 Reasons to Know

Why Do Cows Moo

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If you own a cow or live near a cattle ranch, you may have heard cows mooing, it may sound like similar moos but just like every individual’s voice, each cow’s moo is different as well. Humans can not pick up the difference because they do not understand the language cows speak to communicate.

Besides livestock experts and farmers, not many people know about the cattle moos. Some may argue that it is just the sound that cows love to make which means nothing. Cows tend to moo more at night, which surprises the listener why they are mooing in the dark hours when they should be sleeping.

Like humans, cows vocalize to express their discomfort, hunger, or happiness. It may not be easy to comprehend at first glance, however, if you analyze the situation, one may understand what they are trying to tell. Let’s know more about the subject matter discussed.

Why Do Cows Moo?

It has been one of the interests of the many students and farmworkers to distinguish the meaning of different moos.

Cows moo to communicate their emotion, fear, disbelief, anger, hunger, or distress, to name a few. Cows do not just moo to aware humans of their feelings at the time, they often communicate with other herd members. It is quite certain oftentimes to know when they are having a conversation with a fellow bovine friend.

This sound also depicts the cow mother and calf bond perfectly. You may have observed that when the calf goes running off and the mother looks for it.

She moos and in the distance the calf moos back. It is also just a way of checking up on loved ones. 

Cows moo at night for several reasons, it can not come down to one. They do not just moo to communicate but also to find a mate.

Animals speak differently, they can not express emotions as clearly as humans but cows speak in their own way, expressing their feelings through moos. 

Besides moos, cows also communicate with grunts, snorts, and their tails. They wag their tails when annoyed or irritated, cows also use their tails to swat away flies.


Different Variations of Cow Moos

Cows moo differently for several purposes. Different moos mean different things, it could either mean they are hungry, they are mad, or they just want to wake you up for no reason. Cow moos have different vocalizations with many variations within the groups.

Calling For a Mate

The distinct and considered the most annoying is the call of a bull (male) or cow (female) looking for a mate for some mating action.

It begins as a low moo followed by a bunch of ooo’s with many pauses in between. It is similar to moooooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo with ooo’s having a higher pitch.

Searching For Herdmates

Cows are social animals and like to live and move in herds. They make a separation or searching call when cows are separated from their herds. It begins at a high pitch and goes as loud as possible usually cracking at the end.

To Express Discomfort

Cows moo when they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. According to recent research, Cows make low almost vibrating moos without opening their mouths when squashed between other cows, pregnant, or comfortable.

Making a Happy Noise

Group of Cows and calves playing, kicking up heels, and running around make a happy noise, short vocalization, or sounds similar to maaw. This happy noise begins out low and ends in the middle of their vocal range.

Calling Lost Calves

When cows are separated from their calves, they cry, moo, and become anxious. They make meeeh or bleeeh sounds similar to sheep sound but continuous. There is a research that cows cry to express their feelings.

In regards to the different types of moos mentioned above, observe next time when a cow is mooing and understand what is it trying to say.

Reasons Why Cows Moo

Contrary to popular belief, cows do not moo for anything rather this is the way they converse and convey a message. There can be several reasons why cows moo, these reasons are discussed below.

Looking For Their Friends

Cows being social animals form a strong bond with their fellow herd members. Farmers buy and sell cattle frequently, so, they are constantly moving from one farm to another. They miss their friends and moo to reach out and connect to them.

The moment they get off the trailer, they try to figure out the new surroundings and environment. Some livestock experts believe that cows moos to connect to leading cows and make new friends.

Searching for a Mate

Recent studies found, Moos is used as pick-up lines to lure other cattle. Bulls and cows looking for some mating action let each other know through moos that they are ready for it.

Separated from Calves

Cows moo and cry the most when separated from their calves. Most cattle farmers take away calves hours after the birth of their cow mother. This makes the cows extremely anxious and they cry and moo for days on end. 

Cows make a higher-pitched, louder call to tell calves they are being missed. When calves are just strolling in the distance, cows call them with a moo and get a reply likewise. Calves also moo when they are hungry and can not find their mothers.They can moo while cows listen music, wear nose ring


Cows moo to let the farmer know that they are hungry and needed to be fed. They tell farmers in distinctive moos that it’s time for some hay or grain.

Need to Be Milked

Cows are milked at regular intervals, if they are not milked on time, they become uncomfortable and distressed calling farmers for a helping hand.


When something out of the ordinary happens, cows are bound to moo. Happy and content cows rarely moo.

This happens when they are stressed out while getting the vaccination shots, caught in a fence, lost a calf, moved to a new place, or other similar situations. They moo frequently when get stuck in these unpleasant situations.


Bulls and cows usually get angry and let out a moo. It is an indicator that it’s time to back off, they do not want anyone near them.

Why Do Cows Moo At Night?

Anyone living in a neighborhood of the cattle ranch can vouch for the fact that cows moo at night more than any time of the day. It does not, in any way, means that cows like to stay quiet during the day. They communicate whenever feeling distressed.

Oftentimes, it may seem like they are mooing for nothing but it is not at all like it. They communicate any time of the day to farmworkers and fellow herd members. There could be several possible reasons why do cows moo at night, these reasons could be

When Cows Feel Threatened

Vulnerable wild cows are used to deadly attacks from coyotes, mountain lions, and even wild dogs. Cows feel threatened and scared when they sense a predator present around they moo as loudly as possible to alert farmers and herd members that danger is afoot.

Looking For Lost Calves

A cow mother does not understand that a farmer has intentionally separated mother cows from their calves. They moo, cry, and bellow looking to find the lost calves during the dark hours. Cows will continue to moo for a few days, nights, or weeks on end for the calves.

Sometimes the calf is just misplaced in the herd, cows moo to call them, the calves reply with a distinct moo that they are nearby.

When Cows Are Lost

Sometimes cows run away from pasture or enclosure and can not find the way back home. Cows may want to go outside on their own for a while but at the end of the day, they want to be with the herd. When the cows accidentally get lost they moo all day and night wanting to return home.

These were some of the reasons that make the cow moo at night. Cows stay active throughout the night, they only sleep for a few hours. Cows moo when they are hungry stressed, or sense a threat.

Myth About Cows Mooing at Night

Many superstitious people believe that when cows mooing at night is an omen that somebody is going to die. It is not true but ridiculous, somebody’s death can not be confirmed by the cow moos. 

This myth is believed in many rural areas where people get scared when the cow moos as they become fearful that they are going to lose a loved one. Such people say that a cow moos, it predicts the death of someone in your close circle. Little do they know that it is just how the cows communicate with each other and they are not warning people about someone’s death.

Concluding Remarks

Cows converse through moos, it may not be understandable to many but these moos carry messages and do not mean anything. We hope with all the valuable information you got, next time you may comprehend a cow’s emotions through different types of moos.

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