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Difference Between Heifer and Cow

Heifer vs Cow

Both the cow and heifer belong to the Bovinae taxonomic classification subfamily. As such, they are classified as bovines. “Cow” is the colloquial term for “cattle” and is considered as the most widely occurring large, domestic ungulates (hoofed animals, other examples are camel sand oxen). “Heifer,” although this term is not commonly used and known by the majority, is a particular type of cow that has some physical differences.

By definition, a heifer is most likely below three years of age that does not have a calf yet. A heifer is a cow that can be pregnant with her first calf at present but has not yet given birth to it. If ever this cow had one calf, then it will already be regarded as a first-calf heifer. Heifers are young cows that are basically past their weaning age. By contrast, cows are the more mature bovine. For them to be regarded as a full-fledged cow, they must have at least two calves already.

By looking at the physical appearances of the cow and the heifer, you can already tell the difference between the two. Just take a look at the most obvious feature, the udder. This structure is located in between the hind legs. It has four teats that look like knobs. The udder looks like a pinkish pouch or bag. This organ is responsible for generating the cow’s milk for the young calf to drink. The majority of cows have calves at their sides. Cows in general have smooth coats or skin running from their heads down to their tailheads. Under the tail and below that anal opening is the vulva, which functions as the primary reproductive organ. This structure is more prominent among full-fledged cows than in heifers.

When you walk near a cow, just make sure that you remain quiet and calm because they easily get alarmed with the presence of humans or other unfamiliar animals nearby because they tend to become too protective with their calves. Cows can also be equipped with powerful horns. So please make sure not to disturb them unnecessarily.


1.Heifers do not have calves unlike cows that have already delivered calves.
2.Heifers are generally past the weaning stage and are below three years of age while cows are more mature agewise.
3.Cows have very developed udders (with teats) for milk production. Heifers do not seem to have udders.
4.Cows have more prominent vulvas as compared to those of the heifers.

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  1. No. A heifer is a young female of the cattle kind who has not delivered a calf. A heifer need not been weaned to be a heifer as newborn females are also heifers. It is highly unlikely that a heifer would remain such at four years. In many cases cattle are impregnated long before. In fact, the typical Holstein breed dairy cow only has a productive life of about four years, while those of other breeds may live as long as 22 years. It is NOT common in the dairy industry to see calves at the side of a cow. Think about it! A freemartin heifer, which is a sterile female born twin to a bull calf, never becomes a cow. It isn’t age of weaning status that is the distinction, rather the status of having delivered a calf or not

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