Robert Louis Stevenson rightly said in his poem, The Cow, “She wanders lowing here and there, and yet she cannot stray, all in the pleasant open-air, the pleasant light of day,” and yet, we really don’t know much about why our wonderful friends keep saying “Moo!”
You must be familiar with the fact that many ranchers and herders share a strong affinity with their cattle as if they are of the same kind! Yet, most people fail to understand the myriad of reasons as to why cows make the moo sound, and what they mean by it.
Basically, cows are herd animals and belong to close-knit social structures. They make such mooing sounds in order to communicate and interact with others and also express their sentiments. If you happen to own a cow, then you must have heard it moo in a variety of tones and pitches to convey different emotions.
In some cases, cows moo to find their herd mates (mother, or a calf), call out their partners, express their hunger or indicate their desire to mate. Additionally, your cow mooing can also be a sign to raise an alarm to notify their friends of potential threats or suggest that they are in pain.
These are some of the most common explanations as to why cows moo, but hey, there’s a lot more to each of the aforementioned points that you must know about. Learn more about why rams headbutt here.
Below, we have meticulously elaborated on all these reasons, so let us walk you right through them:
1. They are Stressed Out or Feeling Jittery
One of the ways you can identify if your cow is feeling anxious is by paying heed to the sound they produce. If their moos are more frequent, somewhat higher-pitched, and shrill, then it is highly likely that they are experiencing stress or anxiety.
By now, we already know that cows moo whenever they want to communicate something. However, the flip side to this fact is that in most cases, according to Jared Decker, a cattle geneticist, these animals do not moo when they are happy or don’t need anything in particular. These creatures only produce such sounds when they are in need of something, or want to find their herd.
2. They Need to be Milked
Your cow might also make one of such mooing sounds in order to let you know that it is all set to be milked. Also, if you are wondering, when cows are being milked, they do not experience pleasure in the same way as humans.
But, they sure do feel a sense of relief, because milking eases the persistent pressure in their udders that is induced due to all the excess milk they produce.
This is why one of the reasons why your cow is mooing is probably because it needs a helping hand!
A cow constantly mooing can be a sign to indicate that it is hungry, and it is time for some grass, grain, or hay. This call can either be directed to the farmer, rearer, or members of its herd.
4. They Cannot Find Their Calf or Mother
According to a study conducted by Monica Padilla de la Torre and her teammates on deciphering the methods of communication between mother cows and their calves, if a mama cow is separated from her calf, she generates a loud and high-pitched, ungodly scream.
But, if she knows that her babies are nearby, she will normally produce a softer moo. Subsequently, this indicates that her high-frequency moos are meant to signal her calves that they are missed.
In fact, even cows as young as calves are known to produce a distinct moo if they are in need of milk or cannot seem to find their mothers. Basically, the high-frequency moos of the calves and the low-frequency calls of the mothers are individually distinguishable. This suggests that babies and moms can actually recognize one another through their voices.
5. They Want to Mate
When cows want to flirt, they simply moo! On a lighter note, mooing is the best pick-up line when it comes to the cattle world. Not just cows, but even bulls signal their sexually active phases to their partners by producing the moo sound whenever they are willing to mate.
6. They Want To Reach Out to Other Members of the Herd
If a cow changes its environment or is brought to a new location, like shifting from one barn to another, it will moo to communicate and connect with its friends. This is actually pretty similar to that of typical human behavior because this is what we would do (not moo, but try to reach out!) if we were to be separated from our friends.
Interestingly, since all of the cows’ moos are supposedly distinctive, the other members can easily figure out which one is calling out to them, just by hearing the sound.
Just like frogs croak, horses neigh and dogs bark, our mammal friends vocalize their wants and needs by mooing to other cows. The message they intend to convey might not always be comprehensive, but you can always get an idea by closely observing their non-verbal cues or the pitch they moo at.
A notable fact to know about cows is that apart from mooing, they also utilize other behavioral methods to communicate, such as wagging their tails or grunting whenever they need something.
If you don’t hear much from a cow other than its munching sound as it chews cud or has its meal, then it’s completely normal because a happy cow is also a silent one. However, if it frequently produces the moo sound, then it’s best that you look for underlying signs that cause this cry.