Cows are giving us one important aliment of our diet: milk and all its derivatives, like cheese, yogurt and so on. We’re used to seeing cows in the fields, eating and lazily moving around, sometimes making that moo sound we all find funny. We’re not used to seeing cows lying down, though. This is why there are some superstitions about this: cows lie down when it’s about to rain. Is it really so?
Do Cows lie down when it’s about to rain?
It’s a superstition but there’s some logic to it. It is an old saying that your mother might have told you and she might have been told that by your grandma. It is just a superstition, but where did it come from? Well, cows like to lie down when they feel a slight kind of chill in the air. They spot a patch of dry grass and lie down on it in order to keep their bellies warm. Usually, a slight “chill in the air” might also bring about rain and that is why it is believed that cows lie down when it’s about to rain. The truth is, they don’t really sixth-sense the rain, they just feel chilly and lie down to keep their lovely bellies warm.
When do cows lie down?
Cows can get up and down about 16 times a day. There are days when they are mostly lying down. If you thought cows sleep standing up, then you’re wrong. Also, if you think they can predict rain, you’re also wrong and we have already explained why. Cows lie down for a number of reasons. One very important factor we’ve explained above. The others are:
1. Cows lie down when they’re digesting.
Cows are ruminant animals. They would graze quickly until the rumen of the first chamber of their stomach is full. After that, cows find a peaceful place where they lie down and start digesting, which is turning the grass previously swallowed whole into something more potent. So, they ruminate, meaning they vomit back small amounts of grass in their mouth and start chewing them. So, if you see a cow lying down, head up, back legs to one side and lower jaw idly moving about, then she’s a happy cow digesting her food.
2. Cows lie down when they’re tired.
Horses have a way of locking their knees in position and thus sleeping standing up without falling off. Cows do not posses this feature. So cows sleep lying down if they feel secure. For example, in a herd, there is always one cow who stays up as a sentinel, making sure all her sisters are safe and sound. This is because cows usually get up pretty slow. First, they need to raise their front knees, then their back legs and then they push their rear to get back up on all four legs. So, in case of a predator taking them by surprise at night, this will be a problem.
3. Cows lie down when they give birth.
During the pregnancy, a cow will lie down multiple times a day due to the fair amount of discomfort she feels. During labour, she might get up and down a lot, then, when the birth is imminent, she would lie down to give birth.
4. Cows lie down when they’re sick or injured.
If a cow would just lie down and stay down for an extended period of time, then it’s bad news and she should see a vet.
All in all, cows do lie down a lot and for various reasons. We hope we satisfied your thirst for knowledge and your curiosity. So, now, when your friends ask you: “Why do cows lie down?”, you will give them a very good answer.