When you think about cows, you probably don’t associate them with being pets. Owning a cow as a pet is simpler than you’d think it would be, but it’s still hard to provide a simple yes or no answer about whether they make good companions or not.

For some people, taking care of cows and providing the resources they need to survive could be an enjoyable experience. For others, it could be too demanding, and they might lack the space or food required to keep them happy. Even though cows can certainly make good pets, it’s up to you to decide if they would be a good fit for your everyday lifestyle. 

hoof print divider Do Cows Make Good Pets?

A lot of people associate cows with farms that keep herds of livestock and use them to provide people with meat and dairy. Even though cows give us resources, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who keep cattle simply because they enjoy their company.

There is a lot to learn about taking care of cows before you can bring one home. Read through this article to better understand a cow’s basic needs and the benefits and disadvantages of keeping these animals at your home.

Dutch belted cow with a calf
Image Credit: inavanhateren, Shutterstock

Is it Possible to Train Cows?

Cows are a lot more intelligent than people give them credit for. Cattle have been used for centuries to do outside work, and most of that motivation was nurtured with food. Reward training works well for cows. However, new studies show that clicker training, the type that you see used for training many marine animals, is an even better way to teach them. Train pet cows in the same way that you would train cats, dogs, horses, or other pets. Some have even been known to learn tricks.

Beneficial By-Products of Pet Cows

While having a cow for meat or dairy purposes probably isn’t your main goal, there are other advantages to having a pet cow. You don’t have to treat your cows poorly to utilize them around your house.

Cow dung is a rich fertilizer loaded with nitrogen and phosphoric acid. Dried manure is even richer than the fresh stuff. Many years ago, people used to use cow dung to treat athlete’s foot and baldness. While you won’t be using it for those purposes, you can use it in your vegetable garden, flower beds, or around the house in general to repel mosquitos. If there is an occasional situation where you need something heavy pulled, they’ll also get the work done in half the time that you would on your own.

Cow milk_Pixabay
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Do Your Research

Just like cats and dogs, there are many different cow breeds, and they all have different personalities and lifespans. Set aside some time to do your pet research and see which types appeal to your most. Take into consideration the vast amount of space the cow requires, the food and water consumption, and the overall size of the cow.

Male vs. Female

Male calves grow up to be bulls and can cause a lot of damage on your property or be a danger to you and your family. If you prefer to have a male, make sure they are castrated as soon as possible. To be safe, try to only bring home a female if you are hoping to have a cow as a pet.

Handling Calves

Start to handle your new baby cows as soon as possible. In ideal situations, the cows are already used to being handled and have tame personalities. There are some situations where baby cows are taken from their mothers and still have to be bottle-fed. This would require you to bottle-feed them a minimum of two times per day. This is more work but gives you ample opportunity to stroke their sides, belly, and heads. Over time, they’ll even let you put a halter on them and attach a lead road to walk with them.

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The 4 Tips for Caring for Cows

Cows are not normally kept as pets. Before you buy one, learn about what goes into owning these large animals.

1. Housing

A single cow or steer doesn’t require a lot of fancy housing. If you have the means to build a simple box stall, then you’ll be in pretty good shape. Don’t forget, however, that cows like to graze and roam around. We hate to point out the obvious, but you can’t have a cow as a pet if you live in city limits and have a tiny yard. Owning a cow means you must have at least a few acres of fenced-in land for the cow to roam, jump, play, and graze. You’ll have to keep up on the maintenance of a stall and fence as well. You don’t want to spend more time chasing down an escaped cow than you do enjoying their presence.

Cow house_Pixabay
Image Credit: Nicky, Pixabay

2. Water

Cows are big creatures and some weigh up to 2,200 pounds. A single cow is able to down about 30 gallons of water every single day. This number goes up even higher if it’s hot out or if a female is lactating. Plus, cows are fairly picky when it comes to water. They try to avoid scummy, frozen, or soiled water sources. If you don’t have the means to serve them clean, lukewarm water every day, then you might not be able to keep one as a pet. If your property happens to have a clean pond on it, then you’ll be in better shape than those who don’t.

3. Diet

Cows have stomachs with four separate compartments. They eat their food, regurgitate it, and then rechew it throughout the day. Even if you have tons of grassy land for them to graze on, you still have to supply them with lots of hay and sometimes grain. Keep the hay clean and dry with a designated spot for storage and for feeding them. Never feed them moldy or sour hay or grain.

Cow calf eating
Image Credit: MonicaVolpin, Pixabay

4. Grooming

There’s no other way to put it; cows attract a lot of flies. These aren’t your stereotypical house flies, either. There are horn flies, horse flies, deer flies, gnats, and black flies. These insects bite your cattle all day long and can cause serious health concerns if not kept under control. You’ll have to invest in fly sprays and chemicals to keep them off of your pets.

Cows also require hoof trimming every few months. This process is not something you are able to do on your own and requires a professional. If you keep their stalls sloppy and dirty, it could lead to foot rot or other nasty bacterial infections.

hoof print divider Conclusion

Keeping a cow as a pet is an exciting idea to some people. While cows are extremely cute and have more personality than most people know, there is still a lot of work that goes into caring for them. They don’t have a lot of tedious demands, but they are large, strong creatures that require land, shelter, and food in order to survive. If you’re not capable of paying for or supplying those items, then it’s probably best to appreciate cows from afar. But if you have the ability to give a cow a simple and happy life, then, by all means, go out and get yourself a pet cow that you can share your love with.

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Featured Image Credit: JumpStory