Friday, July 30, 2010

The Difference Between Cows And Goats

There are several differences between cows and goats, some obvious, some not so clear, and others that hop back and forth over the line between the two.

When we first got our goats, there weren't a lot of them around here. Most folks thought of them as "little cows", or "short haired sheep". Unfortunately, neither of those descriptions really fit well....

How about "domesticated deer"?

Once you get your first goat, you realize a few things that differentiate them for bovine:


For the most part, this holds true. There is the rare exception to the rule, such as Mini Jersey, or other "mini" breed of cows. A friend of ours has those. They look like somebody washed them in too hot a water, and then they shrunk in the dryer. I've seen DOGS just as big. Goats can be large, but usually not THAT big. A good mini cow will still weigh in at 400-500 pounds. The biggest goat I've seen was right at 300.


Teats. Although, some cows, like our Mabel, are only blessed with 3. I've also seen 4 on a goat, and heard tell of a couple with SIX (I doubt all worked, though). Cow's teats are generally bigger, too, but not always - it depends on the breed. A good Nubian doe can put a Jersey cow to shame in the size department. Those are the ones that are nice to milk. Then you have the ones like our Kinder Goats. Two small little nubs about the size of your little finger, but only 2/3 as long. It's not fun to work with those types.


Ever try to take a bite out of an apple and then give it to a goat? Nine times out of ten, the goat will find your saliva on it, and spit the thing out. They also don't like to eat on something that another goat has chewed on. Cows, on the other hand, don't have as "discerning" taste buds, and dig right in. They put more emphasis on the belly, not the buds.


The next time you walk out toward the barn in the morning, notice who makes the most ruckus. Around here, the goats a VERY vocal about being fed - even right after they've eaten. I have one who even mumbles WHILE she's eating. Cows generally keep quiet unless they can't find their baby, or you have just banded their baby and he is not happy. Goats figure that you've taken the baby for a reason, and you'll give it back when you've fed it.


Cow Pies are NOT better with a top crust! For that matter - goat pellets do NOT taste like Black licorice jelly beans, no matter HOW much they resemble them. Goat poop is fairly easy to sweep up, and right out the door, even before it dries. Cow poop, is not really "sweepable" under any conditions. I use it to grease wheel bearings. The stuff is nasty slick, never dries completely, and doesn't melt. Of course, cow poop stays on the pitch fork better. You have to mix goat poop with straw before you can fork it.


A cow's tail is designed for two things (1) swatting flies to keep them off their back, and (2) swatting any human who invades the cows "space". Usually this is reserved for the female of the species, and is used extensively during milking. There you are, milking away, when you get zapped in the eye, or across the face, neck, and shoulders with a wet soppy tail that has been drug through a cow pie expressly for that purpose. Goats don't have this problem. I can safely say I have NEVER been attacked by a goat's tail. I've had to fight a couple of them on occasion when I wanted them out of the way so I could inspect "things", but never had other problems with them. It IS amazing how tight they can hold that thing to their body when they want to.

With a cow, even a "stub" can be dangerous. Mabel started out life in a dairy where they docked her tail. She only has a stub about 8"-10" long. I can tell you this - she has smacked me in the arm with it, hard enough to leave a bruise - through a sweat shirt and a jacket. She has also timed it perfectly and "poked" me with it when I walked behind her. It was hard enough to knock me sideways a bit.


Cows are content to see a 4 wire fence, or a single strand electric fence in front of them. They even get so used to things, sometimes you can take the fence down, and they think it's still there. I have a gate on our driveway. Most days, it is shut because the cows are out roaming the yard. I left it open the other morning, just to see how the bovine would react. Both of them walked (grazed) down the hill, right to the open gate. They both ripped up grass right beside it - looked down the driveway, and walk away. My goats would have been out the door in a SECOND.

Cows see fences and gates as a limitation, goats see them as a challenge. One electric strand - nor 4 barb wires - will keep the average goat from tasting the neighbor's rose bushes.
You rarely see a cow with it's head stuck in a fence, either. Goats actually LIKE it. They enjoy the attention when you come grumbling out to the extreme far end of the pasture to rescue some poor goat's scrubby hide, only to get within ten feet of her, and she wriggles her head out. They do this on purpose. It makes them laugh.


Cows are prissy, they like food that tastes good, and is easy to eat. Goats don't mind if the food bites back. Hedge trees, roses, Locust trees, etc - goats LOVE thorns. I've been run over by a herd of raging goats trying to get to a Multiflora Rose bush as big as my truck. They dove into the middle and ate their way out. Multiflora Rose is a wild rose that is hard to kill. Goats know the secret.


At least I've never seen one. I DO have photos of goats in trees, though. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty confident that the trees are thankful.


Twins and triplets are common in the goat world. They also take 5 months to have them. Cows, on the other hand, cook them for 9 months and - most generally - have singles. By the way - there IS a reason why we call goat babies "kids"....

Our first set of kids was born in a shed I have that is open to the east. It was March, so I hung a tarp over the open end to block the cold wind. I nailed it to the roof, and weighed the bottom down with hay bales. I go up the hill to check on them one day, and hear funny "THUMP", "WOOOSH" sounds coming from the shed. I round the corner, stick my head behind the tarp, and find the 4 kids backing up as far away from the tarp as they can possibly get, then running toward the tarp. They hit the bales, launch themselves as high as they can get, then come sliding down the tarp and starting all over again.

Some people's KIDS......


If a goat is giving you trouble, or you need to trim hooves, give a shot, doctor a wound, etc, you can grab it's furry body and flip it over, headlock it's head between your knees, or even drag it to the stanchion. Try putting your cow's head between your knees - if your cow is in a good mood, you get dirty looks. If she's in a BAD mood - well - it ain't pretty. Also, try dragging that 900 pound hamburger to someplace she doesn't want to go.....


Cows down about 30 gallons of the stuff a day from the tank, pond, creek, or mud puddle. Goats - about 2 glasses of Perrier a day. It MUST be clean, cool, and not have anyone else's spit on it. I've noticed, too, that goats will walk right by THEIR water if they feel you've given the cow some that is better. Cows also like to drink from the chicken tank, too. I have an old bath tub that I use to water the ducks and chickens. The ducks like to bathe in it and turn it green. Fresh one day, green the next. The two bovine will walk right by the gate to their tank, and head straight to down the duck water.

Goats also head for cover when they feel a rain drop. Cows ask for a scrub brush and soap. I guess goats think they're going to melt.


I found out the hard way that a cow's toes are a LOT heavier than a goat's toes - Mable stepped on MY toes one day last week. I'm still waiting for the feeling to return and the rest of the toenail to fall off. I think she did it on purpose, too. She didn't get any "cookies' (alfalfa cubes) for dessert, so she was mad.

I've had goats walk right down my back, across my chest, and all over my feet. I don't remember pain being a part of it....


Cows actually make better lawnmowers than do goats. Goats move around (browse) to much to be effective - they leave strips and bare spots - sorta like my old John Deere mower. Cows, on the other hand take a good long swipe sideways with that tongue, and pull up half the yard. They fertilize better then goats, too. Especially if there are chickens handy to spread it out.

Well - these are just a few differences between the two, I'm sure more will come to me later, but right now, I gotta go tuck the goats in, and make sure the cows are snuggled into a nice bed of their own do-do - and laying on the side I milk from.

ANOTHER thing they do on purpose.....

1 comment:

  1. *giggle* Yep, there are interesting how you told them too. :)


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