Monday, 27 July 2009

Cows, Buffaloes and Just Pure Bull

Cows, bulls, oxen and buffaloes. Does anyone really know the difference between these animals?

I guess we are not taught everything we need to know for a productive life in primary school. Is it possible to go through our entire adult life not knowing the distinction between a cow or a bull?

Let's begin 'Cattle 101.'

Cattle and cows are generally used interchangeably. The word 'cattle' always refers to more than one cow. Domesticated cows have been reared for meat, milk, leather and labour (pulling ploughs, etc.) for centuries.

A bull is an adult (uncastrated) male of various species of cattle. Generally, four years and older is considered adult among bovines. Most male cows have the misfortune of either being castrated as calves or being slaughtered before their fourth birthday.

There are a few who survive.

Some are kept alive for breeding but others magically transform themselves into oxen! Ox or oxen are (normally) castrated male cows used as draught animals (animals that pull ploughs, carts and do other arduous work).

That still leaves us with buffaloes. Buffalo cows (yes, buffaloes are also cows) are reared for their meat. Buffaloes can be distinguished by their horns and are sometimes referred to as bison.

Which particular species was first infected with Mad Cow Disease or initially became sacred to Hindus I really cannot say. Ultimately, they all seem to be cows anyway, even the hitherto unmentioned steers and bullocks.

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