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Your Cows Are Talking. Are You Listening?

by Randy Shannon

Growing up on a dairy farm on the south shore of Lake Superior, about the only thing I knew about the back end of a cow was not to be around when the tail lifted and to jump if they kicked.  Life would have been much better if I had this handy advice from the folks at PDPW.

READING A COW'S LANGUAGE can improve your interaction with her and help you determine if she's feeling OK or not feeling well. Information provided by the Babcock Center says the secret is the position of her tail. "You can get an idea of how a cow feels by looking at her tail. When the tail is hanging down, she is relaxed. When the tail is tucked between her legs, she is either in pain, scared or cold. If the tail is raised, she is exploring or alert to possible threats. When galloping, her tail is straight out. 

"It is also important to observe the whole posture of the animal. A healthy animal will stretch, arching her back when she stands up and then return to her normal straight posture. If a cow is standing longer than normal with her back arched and her head low, that is a sign of discomfort."

 Reprinted with permission from Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, www.pdpw.org