One of the most useful animals on this planet for the human race and one that is responsible for an entire diary industry across the globe single –handedly. For its ability to nurture human babies, second only to mother’s milk, it is of immense importance the world over and specifically in the Indian sub-continent, it is heralded as ‘Mother Cow’ for its numerous benefits.
The female domestic bovine creature is known as ‘Cow in common parlance. Biologically, they are termed as ‘Bos Taurus’. They are one of the most commonly found farm animals across the world. They are held in such high esteem, primarily for their large milk-producing (mammary) glands known as udders which possess four teats or nipples from which milk gushes forth.
They mostly graze on grass and have a specialized mouth and teeth for munching through tough vegetation. Cow are famous for their ability to regurgitate and re-chew food multiple times before it then moves on to their digestive tract via the stomach chambers. This helps them to breakdown the food and extract the nutrients.
Cows are found in all places of human habitation. Globally, there were one billion cow population, as per an estimate of 2016 with India, Brazil and China leading the pack and together comprising of one-third population of the cows.
The earliest history of cow domestication goes back to around 8000 to 10,000 years ago, in Eurasia but the earliest known species of cows, called aurochs soon became extinct on account of over-hunting and loss of habitat.
In the modern day, there are broadly two categories of domesticated cows:
1. Zebu or the humped cattle from Eastern Asia, biologically known as Taurus Indicus.
2. Cattle without humps from Western Eurasia, biologically known as Taurus Taurus.
The two forms rarely inter-breed.
Cow renders their utility in form of milk and meat. They also provide leather for the leather industry. They serve as a measure of wealth in certain communities where status and privilege is determined by the count of cows one possesses. They are worshipped as sacred animals in Hindu culture and there are places across the globe where they are served as animal sacrifice to the Lords for ritualistic purposes.
The most famous breed of dairy cattle which is known to produce the maximum milk is the Holstein-Fresian cow. Different breeds of cows produce milk for different purposes such as on terms of the yield or in terms of the fat content in the milk produced. Milk, thus produced is used to make a wide range of products, starting from curd, cream, butter, cheese, ghee, ice-cream, yogurt and many more.
A typical dairy cow lactates for about 10 months from the birth of her calf and if milked twice a day produces about 30 liters of milk, depending on its age and breed. Modern milking is no more done by hands but derived using machines for sterility and hygiene purposes. Cow starts breeding when they are around two years of age and in a single lifespan can breed upto 10 calves.
The entire Indian sub-continent have now become extremely stringent when it comes to cow-slaughter and the current government has been exceedingly vocal in the recent years about regularizing and legalizing the entire process of cow trade.