Most of us know that cows give us milk - 95 percent of the world's milk, to be exact. But did you know that cows are really female cattle, which, along with male cattle (known as bulls), supply half of the world's meat and four-fifths of the world's leather? Some cattle owners give their animals special names, like Flossie or Bossie, but cattle rarely respond to their names as dogs and horses do.
Most cattle reach a height of five feet. Cows weigh from about 900 to 2,000 pounds, while bulls often weigh more than 2,000 pounds. Adult cattle have 32 teeth, but they can't bite off grass because they don't have cutting teeth in the front part of their upper jaws. Instead, cattle tear the grass by moving their heads.
It takes a lot of grass, however, to fill up a hungry cow. Here's a typical daily diet for a 2-year-old steer (steers are male cattle that are usually raised for beef): 25 pounds of corn or sorghum silage (sorghum is a tropical grass with glossy grains), four pounds of red-clover hay, 14 pounds of corn or ground-grain sorghum, and 1-1/4 pounds of linseed meal or cottonseed meal.
People raise cattle on every continent - from cold places like Iceland to hot areas like India. Some historians think that cattle were first brought to the Americas in the early 1000s by Norwegian Vikings. Christopher Columbus brought cattle on his second voyage to America in 1493.