Why Do Cows Wag their Tails?

Why Do Cows Wag their Tails

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Every God’s creation other than humans has got some unique habits. Ostriches eat stones, peacocks spread their feathers, dolphins don’t sleep for months, bats sleep upside down, and cows wag their tails elegantly.

Frankly, these are just a few weirdest and strangest habits found in the birds, animals, and some other creations.

If we continue studying birds and animal’s behavior, we find something unique in each bird and animal.

Though several unique animals and bird’s habits have been explained earlier, this brief post is going to reveal the cows’ mystery.

So Why Do Cows Wag their Tails?

Cows wag their tails quite often. It is never meant to find a mate or attract a mate. The tail is wagged only

  • When the cow is irritated: If cows do not require much to be happy and in a good mood, they can get irritated quite easily as well. A change in routine, flies, fear, learning, hormonal state, and a smell of dung and saliva can irritate the cows. They wag their tails, move erratically, stamp on the ground, raise ears, snort, or kick to show that they are super irritated. So, wagging their tail is a way of telling the livestock keeper that they are irritated by the surroundings.
  • When a cow has to swat flies: Where there are cows, there are flies. The pest flies are not only attracted to cows but several other domestic animals as well. If not prevented, the flies’ attack can cause severe annoyance, stress, and fly worry. Moreover, it also discourages grazing that leads to weight loss and several other diseases. The livestock keepers use a fly spray to prevent the pest flies from attacking the animal and the cow wags their tails to get them off their body.
  • When a cow is in pain: Cows feel severe pain during dehorning, tipping, and parturition. Moreover, an injury or sickness can also cause pain. Since cows can not speak, they usually express their pain through their strange head, ear, and back position or by facial expression. A wagging tail is another expression of pain.
  • When the cow is nervous or insecure: Trying new things is also hard for animals. These poor little fellas can get nervous and insecure. The nervousness and insecurity are shown by bellowing, biting, butting, kicking, or wagging tails. Learn how cows stare at you.
  • Cows wag their tail when they are happy, it’s a misconception: It is generally believed that cows wag their tails when they are happy. However, this is not true. When the cow is happy she interacts socially, walks freely, and sprints around. Besides that, when a cow is happy she would look peaceful. A wagging tail is a sign of annoyance, not happiness.
  • Cows “usually” wag tails to get rid of pest flies: Cows usually express their pain through their facial expressions. Most of the time tails are wagged to get rid of flies. So, whenever you notice a cow wagging its tail we suggest you look for the flies first.

Calves also wag their tails but not in utter annoyance

The few minutes to a one-year-old cow is referred to as a “calf”. The calves or baby cows wag their tails as well.

They express their excitement by wagging their tails. Calves wag their tails at the time of drinking milk, so it is believed that they do not wag their tails out of annoyance at all. It’s only the adult cows that wag their tails in annoyance.

Cows wag their tails all the time, they can’t be happy the whole time

If you spend a day observing a cow, you would notice they wag their tails all the time.

Even though the cow is taken as a gentle, friendly creature, yet they can not be happy the whole time. Since flies do not leave these animals alone, the cows try to get rid of them by wagging their tails.

A few livestock keepers have a different belief

A few livestock keepers also believe that cows wag their tails because it looks attractive to the bulls. However, most of us agree that it is a sign of annoyance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the cow mean when it wags its tail?

The cow is trying to show irritation or annoyance by wagging their tails. Most of the time, they wag their tails to get rid of the flies.

Do cows wag their tails when they are happy?

No, cows do not wag their tails when they are happy. When the cow is happy she would look relaxed, interact socially, walk freely, or sprint around. However, when she is annoyed or irritated by the flies or any other thing, the cow would wag its tail.

Is a cow in pain when she wags its tails?

Yes, a cow would either be annoyed or in pain if the said animal is wagging its tail. Usually, cows wag their tails to get rid of flies. So, there are some solid chances that she might be trying to get rid of flies.


In brief, cows, horses, goats, and some domestic animals wag their tails to get rid of flies. However, it is believed that it’s a sign of happiness. The reality is quite different, cows wag their tails when they are annoyed, in pain, or have to get rid of flies. It’s calves that wag their tails when they are happy.