How to Calm a Cow

Cows are primarily kept for their milk.
Cows are primarily kept for their milk. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Cows are among the most commonly raised livestock. When raising cows, it's important to keep them calm; they're large animals, capable of hurting themselves and others when agitated. Part of keeping cows relaxed involves raising them with other cows and socializing them with people in a positive manner. An agitated cow moos repeatedly, twitches its ears and rolls its eyes around as if looking for a predator. It will also be reluctant to leave the herd. When extremely agitated, a cow will run from people, dig in its feet if forced to move and try to kick.

Things You'll Need

  • Cow
  • Pen

Stay in a cow's sight when you approach it. Never approach the cow from behind. This is a blind spot for the cow and, when it's already agitated, this type of approach can make it run away from you and further upset it. It may also try to kick you.

Talk calmly and soothingly to the cow when you approach. A soft, familiar voice whenever you go near the cow or are going to milk it conditions the cow to expect a pleasant interaction. This and patience work best on mildly agitated cows.

Pat or stroke the cow around the head and ears when you interact with it. Do this only if the cow is slightly agitated and not a threat. If the cow is actively trying to run from you, ignore this and focus on Steps 4 and 5.

Don't chase the cow if it escapes its pen or designated area. Chasing only raises the levels of its anxiety and fear. Approach the cow calmly to urge it back toward its pen. Circle the cow, giving it a wide berth, until you're in its blind spot. Then walk toward it slowly. Moving to the cow's blind spot will make the cow flee and run back toward its pen. Stay out of kicking range when attempting this maneuver. (Only one person at a time should attempt this; two or more will just increase the cow's fear.)

Give the cow time to calm down on its own if it's very agitated. Don't attempt to approach the cow if it's in this state. Stand a few dozen feet away from the cow; observe it to ensure it doesn't wander farther away or hurt itself. Make no sudden movements and maintain a relaxed posture. Once the cow seems less agitated, approach it using the appropriate step(s) above.

Tips & Warnings

  • Socialize cows with people and other calm cows when they're growing up. This helps develop calm, even behavior.
  • It's never appropriate to strike a cow or yell at it.

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