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How Long Do Cows Live? (5 Life Stages)

Cattle herds may be found in every state in the United States. But have you ever considered if you've ever seen a cow die of old age? We appreciate that not everyone is a farmer with such intimate contact to these creatures. However, there aren't many media tales about how a cow died quietly after grazing in an open field for a long time. Cows have a somewhat short lifetime in general, but they don't even reach full maturity before being slaughtered.

cow in the grass

How Long Do Cows Live?

When it comes to farm cattle, the majority of them do not die of old age. Most cattle would live for 15 to 20 years if we allowed them to live their complete lives.

A cow's life is cut short because of what they were bred to perform. For example, most dairy cows are killed after they reach the age of six or when they can no longer give milk. Beef cows, on the other hand, suffer a considerably more heinous destiny, with the majority being slaughtered between the ages of six months and one year.

How about the calves? The amount of time a calf spends on a farm is determined by its gender. Many are sold to cattle or dairy farms. Unfortunately, the remainder are raised for veal production. They are normally removed from their moms three days after birth and housed to tiny hutches. Veal calves are typically slaughtered between the ages of 16 and 18 weeks.

What causes certain cows to live longer than others? (7 Arguments)


You've probably worked out that the major predictor for how long an animal will live is its gender. Males are doomed from the beginning. The majority of them will be shipped to meat farms and butchered before they reach the age of a year. Almost usually, females are utilized in dairy farming and breeding. They are the fortunate ones who live for an average of six years.


Farming can be a stressful job because if the animals do not perform well, the farmer cannot earn a profit and has no purpose for them. Infertility is a death sentence for a dairy cow. Cows must give birth in order to produce milk, and what use would they be to a dairy farmer if they couldn't? It's terrible, but it's a necessary part of the brutal reality of dairy production.


Lameness is nearly often caused by the circumstances in which the cattle are produced. This is particularly true in industrial farms, where hundreds of cows are crammed into small, enclosed quarters. Their hooves develop sores over time, and they are unable to exercise. Eventually, the lameness causes infections, and the cows must be euthanized.


Bacterial infections produce infected mammary glands. Mastitis, in fact, costs the business billions of dollars each year. Nobody wants to confront the fact that mastitis is frequently caused by heifers laying in filthy bedding or being milked using infected equipment.


A bull's life is already difficult, but it gets significantly more difficult if the castration procedure fails. All males selected for meat production are castrated with a tight ring that prevents blood flow to the scrotum. When not done appropriately, this might lead to illness and infection.


Calves' horns are removed during the disbudding procedure. The horns were occasionally burned away with acid or chopped off during the operation. This causes open sores on the tops of their heads, which encourage infections and may lead to a slew of additional severe problems.


Although tail-docking is not required, some farmers insist on it to make the milking process simpler. This is not only unpleasant for the animals, but it may also be harmful to their health. Docking is illegal in several nations, however it is legal in the United States and Canada.

Five Stages of a Dairy Cow's Life


When a newborn calf is born, it weighs between 90 and 100 pounds. For the first three days of life, newborns are generally provided colostrum milk to supplement their nutrition. When they are between seven and ten days old, they may also be given a beginning grain. Between four and eight weeks of age, calves are weaned from milk.

Six (6) months

Six-month-old heifers consume a combination of silage, grain, and hay. They begin with a weight of around 400 pounds and increase at least one pound daily.


Once a cow reaches the age of one year, it is given this name. They have gained a few hundred pounds at this time and still have a long way to go before being placed in a milking herd.

Two Years

When a cow reaches the age of two, she is referred to as a first-calf heifer. They are prepared to conceive and begin milk production over the following several years, until she is totally mature.

Cow that has reached maturity

Adult dairy cows can weigh in excess of 1,500 pounds. They are often between the ages of four and six. In the early stages of lactation, a single adult cow consumes over 100 pounds of grain per day and produces 12 gallons of milk per day.

How to Determine the Age of Your Cow

There are just a few reliable methods for determining the age of a cow. The most often used procedure is to examine their teeth. Cows are often put in a cattle crush to immobilize them while their mouths are examined. The number of teeth in their mouths is the simplest method for determining the age of a cow. For your convenience, the following is a reference guide:

12 months: All calf teeth are in their proper positions.
fifteen months: Permanent incisors emerge at the age of 18 months: 24 months: Permanent incisors show indications of wear The first intermediate teeth appear at the age of 30 months: Six wide incisors appear 36 months later: Six incisors are worn.
39 calendar months: Corner teeth appear 42 months later: Eight wide incisors are worn.


Cows are born into a difficult existence, and this is a harsh reality. While many of them have a lifespan of up to twenty years, their lives are shortened to a fraction of that due to their integration into our demanding world of meat and dairy production. We hope that this essay has shed some light on the true life expectancy of cows and some of the causes that live to their demise.


  • How old is the oldest cow?
This Dremon belonged to Jerome O'Leary in Blackwatersbridge, Co. Kerry, Ireland and was the world's oldest cow at 48 years and 9 months.

  • How long do most cows live?
While a cow's normal life expectancy is between 15 and 20 years, most dairy farms only allow their cows to live for five years. The animals are slaughtered as soon as their production levels begin to decline

  • Which cow breed lives the longest?
With its wide range of sizes and varieties, Chianina is one of the most diverse and oldest breeds of cattle in existence, having originated in the west central Italian area, where it is well-suited for many climates and environments. Chianina has a 20-year lifespan.

  • What is a cow's life cycle?
Cows give birth to a calf every 12 months after a 9-month gestation period. It is well knowledge that cows spend much of their lives grazing on grass or fodder and caring for their calves. Cows are slaughtered when they are no longer able to produce calves.

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