It’s reasonable to be concerned about the safety of your cattle if you raise them and live near a large body of water. While some agricultural animals are natural swimmers, you could find it surprising to see that cows can swim if necessary.
If you’re new to keeping cows, you might not believe such huge lumbering animals with hooves can survive when off dry land. Cows drowning could be a concern, yet even though they are not traditionally water-borne animals, cows can like water. Cows can learn to swim from birth, and adult cows have swum for miles when seeking dry land.
It is easy to forget that cattle used to cross many miles of land to graze. Such geographical features require swimming so they could feed and migrate as required. Modern-day cattle may lack the special muscular characteristics of their ancestors, yet they can still hold their own in the water.
In our guide, you can learn more about domesticated cattle varieties and how they deal with water. By the end, you’ll see that cows and water can increase dairy output and other reasons why other cows are at home in the water. (Read Can Dogs Eat Mint)
Do Cows Enjoy Swimming?
Most cows enjoy cow wading in bodies of water to stay cool and preventing being bitten by insects is more common than you may imagine. Cattle swim naturally if they have a clear aim. Many cows drink from whatever water source is available if they can’t find a lake, river, or pond nearby.
Can Cows Swim Underwater?
Yes, but only briefly. Cows, like humans, can only keep so much air in their lungs before needing to exhale. A cow’s body provides a buoyancy that helps them to keep their heads above water for as long as they are strong enough to swim.
Can Cows Swim in the Ocean?
You may ask, can cows swim in deep water, as this differs from a river. Cows have been seen swimming in the ocean for miles to survive. During Hurricane Dorian in 2019, three cows were reportedly washed out to sea and were able to swim over 4 miles from the mainland to Cedar Island.
Many cows enjoy paddling in the sea such as the Nguni cattle of Southern Africa, who walk to the beach for a cow cooling session in the salty sea to help get rid of the biting insects.
Can All Cows Swim?
According to scientists such as Dr. Frank Fish from West Chester University, Pennsylvania, most mammals, such as cows and other animals, swim instinctively. Since they are quadrupeds, they use their motor pattern, which is geared to dry land, and they apply this in the water. (Read Can Goats Eat Watermelon)
Do Cows Drown?
Even when cows can swim, they can tire in unnatural bodies of water should there be no exit slope.
Can Cows Swim Fast?
A single cow may not swim as fast as a herd of fully grown cows, who can be experienced swimmers. Like this, they could cover a distance twice the length of an Olympic-size swimming pool in less than 5 minutes.
Can A Bull Cow Swim?
Bulls are surprising swimmers for their size and shape. Like dogs, cows and bulls swim using their four legs to propel themselves through the water. Their bulk helps them stay firm in the water, which is vital while crossing rivers.
Can cow swim? From an early age. When moving livestock across a river, cowboys often use horses to help them. Some species tend to have a natural ability or instinct for swimming, which is true for cows and even incredibly young calves that swim short distances.
Most cows love water and enjoy wading to keep cool where cattle typically naturally swim when to reach a specific destination.
If there isn’t a nearby lake, river, or pond, many cows will drink from any source. On a sweltering day, dairy cow will use their water trough to cool.
Water Safety for Cows
Cows can swim and some enjoy it. Take care of your cows. You may teach your cows to swim, but you must be careful. If cows are exposed to open water, be sure they can enter and escape readily. Cows can swim, but not for extended periods.
If a cow slips into the water, they need to get out quickly before they drown. Swimming pools and irrigation ditches have much steeper edges than natural water bodies where cows struggle to exit the water.
Famous Swimming Cows
In the United Kingdom, a herd of cattle on the Crom Estate were surrounded by a network of natural bodies of water and rivers creating a series of islands. Routinely, these cattle switch pastures, or grazing areas and cross rivers to reach such areas.
The cattle are experienced swimmers and make a trip over 300ft. With new cattle in the herd, more experienced cows lead the way to better grazing lands or grazing areas. (Learn How To Raise Bees)
Hurricane Dorian and the Disappearing Cows
Hurricane Dorian wreaked damage in 2019 and just after it slammed into North Carolina, a tiny herd of cattle was found roaming Cedar Island and the Cape Lookout National Seashore. A park ranger says these three cows were not native to the island and had to swim long distances to get there.
Instead, they were able to swim from the North Carolina mainland out to the island during the storm.
In India, cattle racing is traditional sport farmers take part in. The cattle races vary by region, but the practice is steeped in tradition. To train prized animals, farmers use swimming as an exercise for their racing cattle.
Why Are Cows Able to Swim?
Cows can swim, and they can swim rather well. Swimming is not something that humans are built for. Since we are bipedal, we do not move with our arms. Cows swim naturally because their swimming style is a modified version of their walking style.
Cows can swim with ease using all their limbs while remaining upright and keeping their heads above water.
Cows’ swimming forms ensure their bodies are parallel to the water surface, reducing drag and allowing them to continue breathing. Cows can swim long distances without becoming exhausted because of their abilities, and while they can swim and float for extended distances, they easily drown when exhausted.
Why Cows Like Water?
Cows are thought to have developed a natural ability in settings with abundant water sources. As part of normal farming techniques, cows can swim across bodies of water. They have a natural capacity to tread water and have been able to do so since birth, even if they can’t naturally swim long distances.
Cows, like many animals, may have a strong dread of water initially, but gradually become accustomed to being in water and swimming.
Many cows enjoy wading in the water to cool themselves and avoid biting insects such as mosquitoes bothering them.
Cows that spend a lot of time in the water are a special breed. As a result, they have a group of bighorns who used to tip their heads back to keep water out of their noses.
How To Help Cows Swim Safely?
Practicing cows swimming across streams, lakes, and rivers in pursuit of fresher pastures for farmers is not very prevalent these days. As a result, farmers must learn basic rules to help their cows swim when crossing a body of water to switch pastures. (Read Is A Peace Lily Toxic To Cats)
Getting the herd of cows through rivers or lakes might be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process. If the cow leader is the first to enter the water, the rest of the herd will follow suit.
Cut Off A Part of the Herd
If they refuse to follow the leader, they must be separated into a small herd and held together. Then you must rush the herd into the water before they can turn around.
As soon as they enter the river, another group is pushed behind them so that they can keep up with the ones who are already in the water. When the cattle are hungry and thirsty, it is easier for them to enter and cross the river.
The opposing side’s leaders can be used as encouragement to persuade other cattle to cross the river. When herding cattle across bodies of water in small groups, you’ll nearly always use this strategy.
Water and Dairy Cattle?
For the sake of this example, the pond will be man-made and can receive a steady supply of fresh water.
Such ponds usually drain or overflow from the top, and if you have a series of ponds, the overflow water will be pumped into a holding pond and used to irrigate crops or passed into the waste management system.
It is possible to use spring water or wells to feed your cattle cooling ponds. Dairy cattle cooling ponds should have regular fresh water and a constant outflow of water to somewhere where it may be properly disposed of.
Concrete ponds can be made where there is a bottom drain to flush feed lanes or barns. You’ll find the bottom drain helps the removal of solids, which accumulate on the pond’s bottom.
The entrance and exit of any concrete pond need handling with caution. Water entering, lagoons, or mudholes are not considered cooling ponds for dairy cattle. If a cow falls in and can’t easily exit, it can tire and drown.
A location near the feed and drinking water, as well as any type of shade for the cows, is ideal.
The goal is for the cows to cool off, leave the pond, eat, and drink, rest in the shade, and then repeat the process.
Cows with no access to feed and drinking water often remain in the pond and don’t eat, resulting in cool wrinkled cows that produce little milk.
There has to be a mechanism to appropriately dispose of runoff water. This will differ depending on where you are in the country. Pumps are not required because some slop from the ponds to the waste management area would be beneficial.
A long trek in the sun increases heat stress, thus cooling ponds should not be too distant from the milking parlor. Cows love to cool off and making this body of water available can help increase milk quality.