Fun Facts About Cows

A black cow licking the face of a brown cow.
Members of the herd at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary – Photo Credit: Riki Higgins

If you spend much time on sanctuary grounds, you likely know that residents have complex and fascinating personalities and quirks. Because many folks have likely never met individuals living out their lives in sanctuary before, we have created a series of resources compiling fun and fascinating facts about residents to share with supporters and the general public. Cows are amazing beings who deserve to be better known!

10 Fun Facts About Cows

  1. Did you know that cows can be rather pleased with themselves? No, really! Studies have shown that cows exhibit excitement and behaviors indicative of pleasure when they accomplish intellectually challenging tasks!
  2. Cows can tell the difference between different shapes (such as a square and a circle), as well as different colors and different sizes of the same shape. Not only can they differentiate between shapes, sizes, and colors, but they can also discriminate between pictures of familiar and unfamiliar cows!
  3. In fact, when cows were let into a space with pictures, they immediately went to the pictures of cows they knew!
  4. What colors do cows see? Cows see reds, oranges, and yellows quite well, and better than they see blues and greens!
  5. Cows have around 20,000 taste buds! While cows can distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour tastes, they prefer sweet and salty foods. An aversion to bitter foods can help them avoid toxic plants, while their preference for sweet foods helps them ensure they are consuming foods with a high caloric value. Salty foods help them achieve a good electrolyte balance.
  6. Cows engage in social learning, meaning they can learn by watching what other cows do in their herd!
  7. Cows are very social and develop bonds with each other! They even have preferences for who they choose to spend their time with.
  8. One way cows navigate their social relationships is through smell. Did you know that cows can detect the scent of stress hormones in the urine of other cows?
  9. In fact, cows are so tuned in to one another’s feelings that they experience “emotional contagion”. For example, if they encounter a herd mate who is very stressed, they themselves can become stressed.
  10. Like other grazing animals, cows have excellent spatial memories and can navigate and remember mazes quite well!

Hopefully this gives you and your visitors a better idea about the complex and fascinating lives of cows. Did you find any of these fun facts surprising? Or would you like to see a verified fun cow fact added to this list? Let us know!

Infographic: Fun Facts About Cows

Looking to share this information in an accessible way with other sanctuaries and supporters? Check out and share our infographic below!

Fun Facts About Cows by Amber D Barnes


A Review Of Cognition, Emotion, And The Social Lives Of Domestic Cows | The Someone Project 

Updated on May 4, 2021

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