How Long Do Cows Live: Various Coes Comparison and FAQ

Cows are known to be one of the longest-living farm animals, but how long they can live is still questioned. While some experts state that they live to their teens, others claim that they live only until they are ten years old. Read below to know. 

Usually, cows can live for 15-20 years, sometimes even longer. However, the lifespan of a cow depends upon various factors, including: Genetics, health condition, breed and atmosphere. For instance- cows having good genes live longer than others.

However, not all cows can live this long as this entirely depends upon breeds and other various factors, which we will discuss below. Keep reading the article to have a clear idea of how long these beautiful, smart creatures can live. 

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How Long Does the Average Dairy Cow Live? 

Considering that cows mature differently than humans, you might wonder how long the average dairy cow lives. 

Average dairy cows can live for more than 15 years of age; however their productive lifespan is around four to six years of age. Following this, dairy cows are often slaughtered for meat, as they are no longer capable of producing milk. 

A dairy cow’s average lifespan is much shorter than a wild cow’s, given that farm owners have overexploited dairy cows for monetary benefits, which deteriorates their health over time. 

How Long Do Cows Live in the Wild? 

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Now that we know wild cows live longer than dairy cows, how long they live is still unexplored, Or what their life expectancy is still debatable. Let’s find this out. 

Unless they are attacked by predators, cattle typically live until the age of 20-25 years in the wild. Wild cows have a better chance of surviving than domesticated cows since they haven’t been slaughtered. This is probably why they are considered as the most lived animals in the wild. 

Despite the fact they live in the wild with limited availability of food and other resources, they still live longer than domesticated cows because they have not been culled and die of their biological age. 

However, the life expectancy of wild cows depends on factors such as their environment, presence of predators, health conditions, their diets, etc. 

How Long Do Domestic Cows Live? 

Cows have been domesticated for centuries, and since they live in favorable conditions, there are different perspectives concerning their lifespans. Some people believe that cows have a higher lifespan than other animals, while others disagree. 

It is believed that domestic cows live between 18 and 20 years. However, very few die from old age since dairy cows are often slaughtered when their milk production drops in order to save money, which is probably after seven to eight years of age. 

The maximum age for which a domestic cow can live depends on various factors:

  • Genes– Some cows have significant genes and tend to live longer
  • Health– cow’s weight, health conditions and underlying disease greatly affect the cows age.
  • Nutrition– Similarly to people, nutrition is a crucial component to good health and quality of life.
  • Environmental factors – All external factors affecting a cow’s life will have an effect on her lifespan. For instance- stress level, how well she has been treated impact majorly on her age.
  • Weather – Extreme weather can be brutal on cows, so going the extra mile to keep the elements at a minimum is critical for ensuring cows live a long time.
  • Breeds– Some breeds of cow are stronger and more apt to age gracefully than others, so the breed plays a role in how long they live.

How Long Do Holstein Cows Live?

The fact that holsteins are one of the most popular breeds among dairy cows due to the fact that they can produce more than 20 kilograms of milk each day makes people curious about their life expectancy. Let’s figure this out.

While some cows may live much longer than usual, the average productive life of a Holstein is about six years. Holstein cows have the advantage of producing large amounts of milk, although there are disadvantages to domesticating them since they possess a common fitness trait and a short lifespan. 

Due to their popularity in both the dairy and meat industries, Holstein cows are butchered at a young age of six or seven years because of their high demand in both. Once the milking cycle is done, Holsteins are butchered for meat because of their better quality and taste. 

How Long do Jersey Cows Live?

A Jersey cow is not only appreciated for its high-quality milk enriched with calcium, but also for its long lifespan as well. However, what makes people curious is, how long do they live? 

Cows of the Jersey breed generally live for 25 years or more, which is much longer than those of other breeds. They reach maximum productivity earlier than other breeds and produce milk almost all year round, making them quite unique.

However, It is essential to know that the lifespan of a Jersey cow depends heavily upon the conditions under which it is raised. Homestead cattle fed on pasture will live a longer, healthier life than those raised on grain.

How Long Do Mini Jersey Cows Live?

Although mini-jerseys share the same physical attributes as their larger counterparts, can they also live as long as their larger counterparts? Let’s find out!

The longevity of miniature jersey cows is up to 25 years, and they can bear 23 calves in their lifespan. However, since they are domesticated to meet the daily needs of milk, they usually get butchered or used for plowing activities once they stop producing the milk. 

Mini-Jersey cows are considered as the true Jersey breeds. Before milk was not commercialized, families did not need large dairy cows to meet their daily milk requirements thus mini jerseys were in high demand. Since the time the demand for milk has increased so has the demand for miniature jerseys reduced. 

How Long do Highland Cows Live?

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Unlike other cattle breeds, highland cows are expected to live a longer lifespan, so let’s take a look at how long they actually live

Highland cows live around 20 years on average because they have a thick double coat that sustains cold winters, and they are guarded by their horns from predators. Since they are easily seen in a group, they are less vulnerable to predation.

Historically, Highland cows were significant to the economy, with most of the cattle meat being exported to other parts of the world. Scottish Highland cows produce about 3-4 gallons of milk daily. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough for commercial feed; thus, they are butchered at a young age of 4 or 5 years to meet the needs of the meat industry. 

How Long Do Angus Cows Live?

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The Black Angus cattle are unique cattles with short compact bodies, solid black color, and hornless structure. This makes individuals curious about Angus cattle and, in particular, how long they can live.

The lifespan of an Angus cow can reach up to 15 years. They are often slaughtered for meat around the age of five or six. The reason they are slaughtered so young is because Black Angus breeds are renowned for producing excellent quality beef, which is why they are bred for beef. 

Besides their excellent meat production, Black Angus beef cattle are popular with ranchers for their ease of keeping and low maintenance. Additionally, their bones, hooves, hair, can also be used to manufacture a wide range of byproducts like shampoo and gloves.

How Long Do Beef Cows Live?

Cows in the food industry rarely live to the age of maturity since they are killed for their bodies long before they reach adult age. Let’s find out how long the beef cows actually live.

When beef cattle reach the age of two or three years, they are slaughtered. When they reach the age of six months to one year, they are put into feedlots to reach market weight.

Although all cows have a natural lifespan that exceeds above ten years of age, beef cattle have been butchered at an early age of 2 or 3 years to meet the needs of meat. Usually, male calves are killed after a few weeks of their birth; however, female beef cows are killed after they have given birth to a few calves. 

What happens to dairy cows when they get old?

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During their young lives, dairy cows produce milk and give birth, but have you ever wondered what happens to them when they grow older? Read below to know. 

The milk production of old dairy cows stops after the age of 4 or 5 years; at this point, they are killed for meat or used for hides and skins for leather. Since they are no more profitable and the cost to maintain them keeps on increasing, they are butchered. 

Those cows who are not butchered die naturally or after contracting diseases like brucellosis or bovine tuberculosis. 

How Long Do Fat Cows Live? 

Many of you likely heard that fat cows syndrome causes various diseases that lead to early cow death. Let’s find how long do fat cows actually live. 

Fat cows live for less than five years. Obese, postpartum cows are prone to various metabolic, digestive, infectious, and reproductive conditions, which is popularly called fat cow syndrome. The conditions ultimately lead to early death in cattle. 

How Long Do Dairy Cows Live Naturally? 

Dairy cows are known to live longer than other cows, particularly beef but how long they live naturally is still unexplored. Let’s have a look. 

Even though dairy cows can live to between 15 and 20 years of age naturally, it’s not permitted for the vast majority of them to live beyond 4-6 years. This is the age when they are usually sent to slaughter, usually after their production levels decrease.


To conclude, we can say that the natural lifespan of cows is approximately 15-20 years of age. However, their lifespan entirely depends upon factors like breeds, health conditions, environment, as stated above. 

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