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Difference Between Ox and Cow

ox-vs-cow_sOx vs Cow

A cow and an ox are members of the Bovinae subfamily. In terms of physiology, cows and oxen do not have significant differences. But humans differentiate cows and oxen according to their specific use in the farm. So here are some unique differences between a cow and an ox.

A cow is a female. To be called as such, it should be approximately 4 years old and has given birth to at least one calf. Its male counterpart is called a bull. An ox, on the other hand, is a castrated mature bull. So gender can be said as the primary difference between an ox and a cow.

A cow is raised as a livestock for its meat. It is also a dairy animal which is a source of milk and other dairy products like butter and cheese. Meanwhile, the ox is a draft animal. It is used to pull carts, plows, and sleds. It can also be used as a beast of burden for powering traditional agricultural machines like grain grinders or irrigation pumps.

Most often than not, an ox is more intelligent than a cow. That is because an ox is a trained animal. It has been trained to respond correctly to the commands of its handler. It can respond to sound commands or through rope or whip prodding.

Cows on the other hand are usually allowed to graze. Their owners never bother to train them. Commercial cows for large dairy factories are kept in a special corral. All they have to do is to eat and drink so they can produce plenty of milk.

In terms of built, an ox is more massive, muscular, and sturdy. In contrast, cows generally do not have stronger muscles like the oxen.

These are the distinguishing characteristics of an ox and a cow. So when you go to a farm, you will be able to identify which is the cow and which is the ox.

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  1. Why does the Torah NOT ALLOW the castration of any animal; yet, it commands not to yoke an ox and donkey together (precipitating that oxen will be employed) — if oxen are castrated bulls ??

  2. no its not oh yes it is whoops

  3. I still haven’t had it confirmed what the name of the beef/dairy farm animal is. I’m not accepting ‘cow’ as that is simply a gender identifier like but opposed to ‘bull’. Bulls and cows are found across several animals including elephants and seals. This topic seems to imply the animal is not an ox either; despite similarities. So if anyone can tell me the name of the animal we get beef and milk from, I’d appreciate it! Dictionaries confirm that ‘dog’ is an animal and also the male of the animal. The dictionaries don’t confirm ‘cow’ as the animal in the same way; just the female of the animal.

    • Are you looking for “cattle”?

      • No. Bison and other animals are also referred to as cattle (comes from (goods and )chattels). Ox is the nearest I’ve got so far – and I think is possibly the answer.

        So, I think for this page, ox = cow and the differences like in the pictures is down to different breeds like all the different breeds of dog – they’re still a dog!


    • Its bovine. Ox is older castrated bovine used as a draft animal. A steer is a younger (yearling) castrated bovine grown for meat. A cow is female bovine used for milking or birthing calfs. A young female bovine is a heifer. Males are bulls. Most people incorrectly use the term cow when they mean bovine.

      • No ! Bovines are an even bigger group of animals than the cattle group; including antelopes.


        • Kingdom: Animalia
          Phylum: Chordata
          Class: Mammalia
          Order: Artiodactyla
          Family: Bovidae
          Genus: Bos

          No where is it said that “ox” is the animal, only a type of this animal in which you are looking for

        • Family: Bovidae (Bovid, singular) – includes cattle, antelopes, and goats.

          Subfamily: Bovinae – include cattle, spiral-horned antelope, and nilgai.

          But the dictionary gives two definitions for “bovine”: a technical one similar to the one above, and the second, “oxlike, cowlike,” which reflects a common parlance.

          Tribe: Bovini – includes bison, buffalo, and cattle.

    • Aurochs are the extinct ancestors of modern domestic cattle.

    • Steer is the name for the male bovine on the farm

    • Steer is the castrated male bovine on the farm. That is until he is 2yrs old. Then he is an ox. That’s from Brittanica.com

  4. also, I don’t think it’s correct to say oxen are more intelligent than cows. Intelligence is not the same as educated. You say cows are less intelligent because they haven’t been trained. Are you then saying that if an ox were simply left to graze in a field, and not trained, it is stupid, and if you train a cow, it’s intelligent?

    It’s a matter of opportunity, environment, and training…not just a “fact” that all oxen are more intelligent than all cows. There’s a difference between ignorance and stupidity, like there’s a difference between educated and intelligent. A trained circus elephant is not more intelligent than a wild elephant, for example. It’s simply been trained. IMHO

    • Cows can be trained to use automatic milking machines. However, they’re not taught when to use them. I doubt you’d find other oxen using technology for themselves!

  5. Thank you for there always have been a differentiator in their name, we just don’t know some of the difference, that’s when I jump in to ask there’s a young one which is called a heifer, a Cattle then those others that you have explained very nice. In the college I went to; you would earn $500 for a well written essay, so may God continue blessing you in knowledge, and in truth, shalom,


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