Are Cows Aggressive or Friendly: Interesting Insights and Facts


From the outside, cows mostly seem calm, quiet, and not bothered about their surroundings. Such apparent demeanor often poses one question if cows are friendly?

Overall, cows are friendly creatures with inquisitive minds. Nonetheless, their behavior towards humans and other animals would often depend on their surroundings, how they are raised, etc. Also, if they are spooked or scared, they can display an aggressive attitude. 

Keeping this in mind, we have presented some interesting insights and facts about cows’ nature below. This is not an exhausted list but can surely add to our knowledge about this giant but an otherwise calm mammal.

Image Credit: Cows usually display a docile temperament from Pxfuel

Are Cows Aggressive?

To begin with, are cows aggressive? We may often wonder about it as cows don’t seem aggressive from their outer appearance. But can any situation make them go mad?

Cows are not aggressive by nature but can become so if forced to do something against their will. So, if we try to change their routine or move them to new surroundings, they may get irritated and thus angry. Also, a nursing cow may show aggressiveness if she feels there is a threat to her calf.

Therefore, it is wrong to take cows as all-in-all docile animals that cannot get angry. And with that, we should keep in mind some other situations and factors that may make a cow fume in anger:

  • Mishandling
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Hormonal issues
  • Inadequate enrichment
  • Poor training, etc.

How can you tell if a cow is aggressive?

So, we know cows can be aggressive at times. Now what is crucial to understand is how to tell if they are aggressive. 

Cows and other cattle will give you hints to express their feelings. Here are the seven vital signs that will help you if a cow is aggressive:

  • Stamping on the ground with hooves
  • Raising their ears
  • Erratic movements 
  • Kicking
  • Turning sideways
  • Grunting or snorting

An aggressive cow can be a dangerous cow. Since cows have horns, they make great use of them as a part of defense mechanisms. So, as a precautionary measure, you should read your cow before it’s too late.

What is the most aggressive cow?

If you are a cow enthusiast or are looking to raise cows, it may be wise for you to learn about the most aggressive cow breed(s),

An angry or aggressive cow is never famous. So let us see some of the cow breeds that are infamous for having low tolerance levels:

  • Heck Cattle
  • Longhorns
  • Chillingham
  • American Brahman Cow

Although in some cow breeds, aggression can be innate, they are always angry. 

Hence, aggression should not act as a discouraging factor for you to choose one cow over another. However, you must have the expertise and patience to handle such cows efficiently. 

Can cows attack you?

Humans have domesticated cows for a long time. Cows are usually docile and can be handled with ease.  

Nonetheless, they can attack humans under certain circumstances, like being teased, scared off, infrequently handled, etc. That being said, a nursing cow with a new calf can indeed attack humans if she feels threatened. 

Also, reports state that cows’ attacks can prove dangerous if not fatal every time. We say so because an angry cow can push, kick and stampede, resulting in

  • Bone fracture
  • Sprains
  • Punctured lungs
  • Black eyes
  • Joint dislocation
  • Nerve damage
  • Unconsciousness
  • Lacerations
  • Bruises

Are cows dangerous to humans?

So, if a cow can attack humans, should they be considered dangerous, all-in-all?

Cows are not dangerous to humans. We say so because they are flight animals who would instead run than attack. Also, most cows have a calm and quiet temperament, and they prefer to maintain peace unless faced with any danger. 

Hence, it would be wrong if we categorize cows as outwardly aggressive and dangerous animals. Nonetheless, there are a few specific breeds of cows that have the reputation of having low tolerance levels, which we have already mentioned. 

Do cows bite humans?

Cows have the power to injure people. But their mode of fighting involves kicking, stampeding, etc. So, can they bite humans?

If taken generally, cows do not bite humans as a part of their defense mechanism. Usually, what they do is a nibble. But we cannot rule out their capability to bite if necessary, although that bite may not be a malicious one like those of dogs or cats. 

It is essential to note that you are likely to get bitten by her if you put your finger inside a cow’s mouth. This may happen even when she is not angry or aggressive. 

What to do if a cow chases you?

So, you have a cow or passing by a cow ranch, find a cow chasing you. What would you do? Would you just stand still or run away from her? 

The thumb rule is that if a cow chases, you should walk as far from her as possible. But while doing so, never try to scare it further. Also, while walking away, try to follow an established footpath if there is one, as the cow would be familiar to see people using that path to walk. 

In addition, if you have a dog with you, keep it under control to not aid the cow’s fear or aggression. Also, you can try to be as assertive as possible for a cow to tame. For example, what you can do is walk toward her and shout as loud as you can to scare her off.

Still, if you cannot take a cow’s chasing off you, try to find a safe place where the cow cannot reach and call for help. 

Is it safe to walk through a cow field?

It is doubtful that you would need to walk through a cow field now and then. But if the situation demands so, is it safe?

Cows are safe animals that do not readily attack humans. So the chances are high you can walk through a cow field unhurt. But it is preferable not to enter an unfamiliar cow field. Cows are curious by nature and get spooked. If they see a new entity and feel it as a threat, you never know; they may even chase you.

That being said, there can be certain situations when you must avoid walking through a cow field, like if there are cows with their calves. 

How do you control an angry cow?

Although cows don’t generally get angry, what to do if you end up with an angry cow? Is there any way to control such cows?

The good news is, yes, an angry cow can be controlled and calmed. There are specific steps that you can follow.

Give them some time:

If you are at a safe distance from an angry cow, let her be mad for some time. This will help her to release her stress, and she will calm down eventually.

Keep out of their flight zone:

It is preferred to keep put from the fight zone of an angry cow. This will prevent any further unrest.

Talk in a softer tone:

If your cow is well trained, she is more likely to respond positively when you talk to her in a calm tone. This may even work when your cow is angry about something.

Do not be harsh on them:

A cow would get angry if she is scared or stressed about something. And in such a situation, if you talk loudly or harshly, it may further add to her stress level, making her angrier. 

How do you handle an aggressive cow?

Image Credit: Handling an aggressive cow (CC0) from Peakpx

If you plan to get cows for domestication, it is wise to learn how to handle them when they get aggressive or mad. The following steps may prove helpful. 

You can refer to the following steps if you face any aggressive cow.

  • Do not threaten her.
  • Give your cow some time for the heart rates to return to normal.
  • Try to avoid shadows and blind turns.
  • Never use any sudden noise near her.
  • Never try to calm her down by stepping inside her flight zone, which is 5 to 25 feet for the average cow.

What are cows afraid of?

As flight animals, cows can be spooked easily by several things and situations. Learning about them can help us to handle cows better.

A cow usually responds depending on her instinct, sensory perception, and experience. Here are a few things that can make a cow scared:

  • Unfamiliar and loud noise
  • Sudden movements
  • Sudden changes in routines
  • Transfer to a new facility
  • Poor handling

What noises are cows scared of?

Cows have the excellent hearing capability. They can hear even the slightest of sounds.

That being said, cows are generally scared of unfamiliar noises like 

  • Ventilation fans
  • Traffic sounds
  • Screaming
  • Bell sounds
  • Dog barks, etc. 

Here, it is essential to note that cows respond and react based on their perceptions and experience. And they have good memory power. So, if a sound is associated with a bad or painful experience, a cow may get scared of it.

Do cows fall in love with humans?

Animals are capable of feeling loved as well as showing love and affection. So, does that mean cows fall in love with humans?

The answer to this depends on how we define love. If we talk about how humans fall in love with each other, then no cows fall in love with humans that way. Nonetheless, they can grow a liking for their familiar humans and develop a strong bond if handled with love and care.

How do you know if a cow likes you?

Image Credit: Cows can form a strong bond with humans from Pxfuel

If you are familiar with a cow, you can easily understand when she shows her affection. But if you are new in this field, how can you say if your cow likes you?

You just need to understand those to ensure if they like you. That being said, here are a few signs, which can state if your cow is showing affection towards you.

  • Licking face or hands
  • Following you
  • Nudging with nose
  • Letting you pet them
  • Mooing while getting groomed
  • Playing with you, etc.

Are cows aggressive to dogs?

Image Credit: An Australian Kelpie working cattle by Cgoodwin (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

Dogs are humans’ best friends, and cows are closely associated with them as farm animals. So, what if cows face dogs? Would the former get aggressive?

No, cows do not necessarily get aggressive with the sight of a dog. Dogs, in some cases, assist humans on farms. So, if a cow is familiar with a dog, she is more likely to exhibit friendly behavior towards the latter. 

However, if cows are introduced with an agitated or an unfamiliar dog, they may get aggressive. 

Are Angus cows aggressive?

Image Credit: Black Angus Cows by pen_ash from Pixabay

A cow’s behavior and disposition often depend on its genetic makeup. That being said, different breeds often display different levels of aggression.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Angus cow breeds are most preferred for their mild temperament and ease of handling. The cows of this breed are reputed for being calm, quiet, and good-natured. 

However, the same cannot be stated for Angus bulls, as they are of the more assertive temperament. Still, they are pretty easy to handle and deal with if they are hornless. 

Are female cows aggressive?

(Female) cows are not usually angry or display aggression.

But they display aggressive behavior if they are going through the maternity period, in heat, or have a newborn calf with them.

Are male cows aggressive?

Male cows or bulls are generally used for heavy works, as compared to cows. They are also considered to have a strong temperament.

Bulls’ larger physical stature often creates a perception of them as being angry. Nonetheless, if bulls get mad, they can cause serious injuries to humans and other animals. That being said, dairy bulls are commonly more aggressive than beef bulls.

Are longhorn cows aggressive?

Image Credit: Longhorn steer cattle by 1778011 from Pixabay

Longhorn cows look fantastic with their tanned coat color and longhorns. 

The distinctive long, curving horns that differentiate this cow breed from the rest can give the impression of aggression. But longhorns are usually friendly unless they get teased. However, always remember that longhorns possess strong survival instincts, which sometimes can make them wild and stubborn.

Are dairy cows aggressive?

There is a general perception that dairy bulls tend to be more aggressive than beef bulls. Can this be stated for dairy cows as well?

Well, if you infrequently handle dairy cattle, the chances are high that they will show stubbornness. Keep in mind that cows are flight animals, and even a hush sound can make them go mad. Other factors that can make dairy cows go crazy are threats to the newborn calves, heat, separation from the herd, etc. 

Are jersey cows aggressive?

We have heard that jersey cows are among the most in-demand cows because of their milk, meat, etc. But what about their temper?

Jerseys are known for being friendly and docile. They are easy to train and handle in a farm ambiance. 

Are beef cows aggressive?

It is a general perception that dairy cattle tend to be more aggressive than beef cattle. Can this be stated for beef cows as well?

Cows are intelligent animals, and they can sense their surroundings even by the slightest sounds. So, if they hear anything unusual, like sounds of bells, moving machines in the slaughterhouse, etc., they may show aggressive behavior as a defense mechanism. 

Are Hereford cows aggressive?

Hereford cows are one of the most im-demand breeds for beef production. 

Apart from beef, Hereford breeds are also famous for possessing a calm and docile temperament. This characteristic of Herefords makes them an excellent choice to be domesticated. 

Verdict

So, we can safely state that cows usually belong to amiable animal categories. However, if they are spooked, in pain, or handled infrequently, humans may come within the range of their aggression. 

Hence, be gentle, calm, but assertive while handling your cows!

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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