How to Talk Like a Cattle Farmer

Herd  Want to be able to talk like a farmer and use the correct words when referring to cattle?  Did you know that even a lot of adults use improper terminology  when referring to “cows”?  I hear it all the time!

Often people use the term “cow” to refer to the bovine species in general.  (Bovine is another word for “Cattle”.)

When you hear someone say “Oh, look at that baby cow”, the truth is, it’s not a cow.

If it’s a girl baby, then it’s called a heifer.  They are called heifers until they grow up and have a baby of their own.  Then, they are called a cow.  Sometimes, farmers will call a heifer who has given birth to a new baby a “first calf heifer” to let other people know that she is not an experienced cow but is learning how to be a good momma.

A young heifer
First Calf Heifer
First Calf Heifer

A common mistake is to say ” the cow’s udders” when referring to a mother cow.  A cow only has one udder. It is singular.

Example:  The cow had a large udder.

Udders (with an “s”) is plural.  Example: The cows had dirty udders at milking time.

The mother cow’s udder makes milk. Her udder consists of four parts and these four parts are called quarters.  Each quarter is an individual compartment that makes milk for her babies.

Calf nursing one quarter of the cow's udder
Calf nursing one quarter of the cow’s udder


Boy babies might be a bull or a steer.  A bull  calf will most likely grow up to be the sire of a group of cows known as a herd.  “Sire” means that he will be the father of the babies born into the herd.  A steer is a boy that will not be a herd sire and will not father babies.  Instead, most steers provide beef for humans who consume meat.

Bull or Herd Sire

So, if you want to talk like a real cattle farmer, when you see a “herd” or group of “cattle” remember that it is most likely made up of male and female “bovines” and you will want to call them cattle instead of  “cows” knowing the group can include babies (calves) who can be boys (bulls or steers) or girls (heifers) who grow up to have babies of their own (cows).

Beef Herd
Beef Herd

THE COW by Robert Frost

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

(Learn more about Robert Frost here.)

Grandma Moses Art
Art depicting cattle by Grandma Moses

 An artist called Grandma Moses painted this picture of cattle.  Did you know she lived in the Shenandoah Valley just like we do here at the Cupp Farm?  In fact, the house where she lived is just a few miles from where we live!  Grandma Moses was a fascinating woman who didn’t begin painting until she was 76 years old!  You can learn more about her at this link.

Looking for arts, crafts, coloring pages, songs and more about cattle?  Check out the following:

Cow and Bull Crafts for kids

How to draw a cow

Grandma Moses for Kids


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s