Heifer vs. Cow: Interesting Insights and Facts

It is pretty standard for non-specialists to consider every cattle as a cow. But what if we told you not all of them are cows? Some are heifers as well. Let’s understand the difference between these two terms to understand better

Female bovines are either heifers or cows based on their reproductive history. A heifer is a female bovine that has never been bred, whereas a cow is a female bovine that has already given birth to a calf. We can also say that heifers are immature cows that are unable to reproduce at that period. 

Cows are mature females of the class of Mammalia in kingdom Animalia that have already given birth to 2-4 calves in their lifetime. Unlike heifers, they have fully developed organs and are able to reproduce. 

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However, besides this primary differentiation, cows and heifers do have other characteristics that make them unique in a variety of ways. Keep reading this blog to discover more about them.

Heifers Vs. Cow Differences

Comparison BasisHeifersCow
DefinitionHeifers are female bovines that has not given birth beforeCows are female bovine that has already delivered calves
AppearanceHeifers usually look similar to their genetical parentsThe appearance of cow can vary according to the environment condition
AgeThey are below three years of ageThey are above three years of age, usually four and sometimes more 
Body CompositionSince they are younger in age than cows, they have more petite body frameThey are heavyweight, fully developed, and have a colossal body frame
UddersHeifers don’t have uddersCows have developed udders
VulvaVulvas are generally not present in Heifers, this is why they are unable to reproduceVulvas are present in cows and this is usually present below the tail
Milk SecretionHeifers cannot produce milk. They can only do so after giving birthCows can efficiently secrete milk
Heifers Vs. Cow Differences

Who is Heifer

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In the cow’s language there are several terminologies that can be hard to understand, and one of them is a heifer. Let’s know what is meant by heifers and to whom this term denotes to. 

The female offspring of a cow that has not yet given birth to any children is referred to as a heifer. Heifers eventually grow into cows; however, until they reproduce, they are referred to as heifers. Heifers possess the same genetic attributes as cows.

Typically, heifers do not have calves yet, but they are an integral part of herd dynamics because they are replacements for older cows. The dairy industry values them for their milk production, while the meat industry values them for their meat production. 

At this stage, heifers weigh just over half of their mature weight. All their body parts, including their horns, haven’t reached their peak growth. 

They have not developed their reproductive organs like cows and therefore are not capable of producing young calves. Heifers do not produce milk until they are five years old. Moreover, the nipple of a heifer is not fully developed to secrete milk.

Who are Cows? 

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A cow is much more than just an adult female that can reproduce. In addition to reproduction, many other features need to know about cows. Let’s explore them. 

Cows are mature females of the Animalia kingdom that can reproduce. Having the ability to reproduce, cows can also produce milk for their young by secreting milk through their nipples. 

Cows are classified as Mammalia since the glands that produce milk are called mammary glands. Nappes are present beneath these glands for calves to feed on the milk. The calves’ physical characteristics and weight are determined by the size and shape of the glands.

The cow is a ruminant that grazes. Cows digest food in all four chambers before the digestion period ends, which is similar to the digestion of all ruminant animals. Cows are friendly to humans and are a crucial part of many dairy farming operations around the world.

How are cows and heifers reproductive organs different?

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As we have a detailed understanding of heifer and cow, let’s figure out their reproductive organs. 

Cows have udders and vulvas. However, udders and vulvas are not developed in heifers. This is why they aren’t able to reproduce or secrete milk. 

This is because of their underdeveloped reproductive organs, and heifers are unable to reproduce. However, when they hit the specific age limit, they will have developed organs that will help them produce, and once they give a birth, they will automatically be considered as cows. 

Significant Difference Between Cows and Helfer

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Let’s understand the difference between heifer and cow in more detail. 

  • Bovines are divided into two categories: cows and heifers, in which a cow is a mature female bovine, and a heifer is an immature one
  • Heifers are not able to reproduce since they do not possess mature reproductive organs, whereas cows can because they have mature reproductive organs.

Which is the Best Method for Differentiating a Cow from a Heifer?

Cows and heifers are both female bovines, which makes it difficult to distinguish them at a glance. Let’s find out how you can spot the difference between the two.

In order to distinguish between a cow and heifer, the easiest way is by checking to see if the cow has an udder. Cows have udders that are even more developed than heifers, who have not developed udders.


Cows and heifers are both mammals, belonging to the kingdom Animalia and in the class Mammalia. Despite their various differences in appearance, reproductive organs, size, or age, they are valuable assets for farmers as they raise cows. And heifers to earn incomes from livestock and dairy farming. 

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