At some point, you may have found yourself wondering if cows are friendly. Maybe you see cows in a pasture as you’re driving, or maybe when you’re on a walk and pass a nearby farm. Perhaps these moments have got you thinking: Should I be afraid? Will this cow charge me? Can I pet or feed these cows? Read on to find the answer your questions and more information on cow behavior.

Are cows friendly? For the most part, cows are friendly, curious animals. Much of their behavior depends on how often they interact with people, how they were raised, if they feel threatened or scared and if they have something to protect. Dairy cows that are milked frequently are much more familiar with people and less likely to become spooked or agitated. A bull (male cow) is more likely to be aggressive as a natural defense.

Are Cows Friendly?

For the most part, cows are friendly, curious animals. Much of their behavior depends on how often they interact with people, how they were raised, if they feel threatened or scared and if they have something to protect. 

Dairy cows that are milked frequently are much more familiar with people and less likely to become spooked or agitated. A bull (male cow) is more likely to be aggressive as a natural defense.

Are Bulls Friendly?

Bull cattle, on the other hand, are a much more aggressive animal that requires special handling for the safety of humans and other surrounding animals. Surprisingly, dairy breeds are more prone to aggression than beef breeds.

Contrary to popular belief, bulls are red-green colorblind, so the traditional red matador’s cape does not trigger the bull; however, the swift movement of the cape does.

Cows Can Have Personalities

Anyone who has worked with cows knows that these animals have their own unique personalities. One cow may be more skittish or “shy” than another. Farmers usually have several “pet” cows in the herd. These are cows that are friendly and curious, who approach a human for scratches on the head. 

Cows are intelligent animals with an innate sense of curiosity. They have a full range of personality traits that can include boldness, shyness, sociability, excitability, and more.

Cows have a natural hesitancy and fear of the unknown; and do not like change. This makes cows most comfortable when they have a consistent routine and familiar surroundings.

Are Cows Friendly?

Reasons for Cows to be Aggressive

A cow may become aggressive if she is forced to change a routine or moved to new surroundings. When cows are part of a herd, there is a pecking order. If a new cow is introduced to that herd, aggressiveness may happen as the new pecking order is established.

Cows who stay with their calves would become aggressive if she deems there is a threat to her calf.

As previously stated, cows do not like to be surprised and have a deep fear of the unknown. Spooking a cow in any manner can spark aggression–especially in bulls.

What to do When Around Cows

Here are some tips on how to act and what to do when approaching cows:

  • Do not corner or sneak up on a cow. Approach the cow slowly. Cows have great sight and have almost panoramic vision. However, cows do have a blind spot directly behind their head. Be sure to always approach a cow from behind and to the side, so they can see you.
  • Keep your interactions with cows quiet and slow. Cows will startle to loud noises, unexpected movement or touches.
  • Keep dogs at bay. Dogs often play a role in cow attacks. Cows do not like to be chased.
  • Avoid approaching mother and calf pairs. Maternal instincts are strong and you do not want to get in the way.
  • Walk quietly and at a steady pace. With no startling movement, cows will not see you as a threat.

Conclusion

Overall, cows are animals that many people underestimate. They can possess a full range of personality traits and are intelligent.

Cows can stand 6 feet tall and weigh more than 1,200 pounds, so it is of great importance to be aware of the manner in which you approach or handle them.

Never approach a cow on a farm or in a pasture without permission from the farmer. Entering a farm can pose a bio-security threat to the animals so it is imperative that you let a farmer know you would like to visit and ask for permission before approaching the animals.