Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Bull and Ox

bullBull vs Ox

The difference between a bull and a ox goes further than just how we refer to livestock. Ox, or oxen, are actually used for different purposes than bulls. An ox is typically used for things like pulling. In developing countries they are still, to this day, used for pulling a plow and harvesting crops.

The bull is how we refer to cattle (or cows) when we speak of the male gender of the species. The ox is scientifically coded as a sub-genus of the cattle. Technically, this makes each a related species like cousins, but does not make them an identical species.

With the exception of a few that are used for breeding, it is customary to castrate the ox. Bulls, however, are almost never castrated. The bulls found within livestock are used for breeding purposes, as well as for stock purposes. This creates the need to produce more cattle at a faster rate. Oxen are more controlled when it comes to breeding. This is generally because they are simply not considered much of a popular food source, especially in developed countries.

The ox is typically larger than a bull. Oxen used as ‘draft’, or pulling animals, are usually beyond the age of four, to ensure that they are at their bulkiest and fullest, when it comes to their size. Alternatively, most bulls are smaller than the ox, and beef cattle are generally slaughtered before they reach the age of four.

Many mistakenly consider any castrated bull to be an ox. However, this is inaccurate, as they share all of the bovine genes, but do have an actual distinctive genetic code that separates them from each other.

When it comes to symbolism, there are those cultures that consider them to be separate entities, and there are those that classify both bulls and oxen together. The Chinese calendar offers representation to both the bull and the ox, for the years of birth including, but not limited to, 2009, 1997, and 1985. Other cultures and religious affiliations often segregate the two animals. Hindu celebrants recognize the ox.

Summary:

1. The oxen are draft or pulling animals, usually used for cart transportation, or to pull plows.

2. While both are part of the bovine family, the oxen are a sub-genus of the male cattle, or bull.

3. Oxen are castrated, and breeding is more controlled and selective.

4. The typical ox is larger than the typical bull

5. The ox and the bull have similar, yet unique, genetic DNA codes.

6. While they maintain religious and ethnic symbolism, they are often heralded separately.


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4 Comments

  1. We always referred to an intact adult male bovine a bull. A male castrated when a cafe we call a steer. A male bovine castrated as an adult we call an ox. I’ve have not been aware of a sub genes or, for that matter, an intact ox or a castrated bull, and I can find no other data to believe otherwise.

    The size different occurs because the ox is put to work and allow to age. You also seem to have the idea that bulls are a food source, they are not. Steers are raised for meat, bulls have too much testosterone, which makes the meat tough.

    Also there is no bull Chinese zodiac, there is a tiger, a rabbit, a dragon, a snake, a horse, a goat, a monkey, a roster, a dog, a pig, a rat, and an a symbol that is often misrepresented as ox but usually refers to water buffalo.

  2. This info above is incorrect!

    A male calf, if not castrated will become a bull.

    If castrated, it is then know as an ox.

    That is how it is!!

    • You’re wrong Gavin. A castrated (at any age) male bovine is a steer.
      A bull gets to keep his testicles and pass along genetic traits – through natural or artificial breeding.
      An Ox, IS a separate genus. They may (chromosomally) interbreed with any breed of cattle beast (as may any other, if allowed to by humans). However, they ARE different in that they grow larger and live longer. Few get slaughtered as ‘working for a living’ makes muscle too tough to be tenderized for eating.
      Bulls, when ‘retired’ from breeding, do get slaughtered – but again, age and hormones (naturally occurring testosterone, produced by their own bodies) make the meat very tough so it’s usually used to make hamburger meat (ground beef.)

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