Why do Cattle Live In Herds?

By Alycia McClure on July 10, 2015

Cattle naturally have a herd mentality. Herd behavior describes how individual animals (and interestingly enough – people) in a group act collectively as one unit. When cattle are together in a herd the stress level is reduced, there is a naturally selected leader and the level of safety for the each animal increases.

Cows like to be together, they even form “cliques” within their own herd of other animals they prefer to be around. When cattle are kept together instead of being separated and alone their stress is greatly reduced because this need for companionship is met. Part of the reason why cattle make a great animal to raise is because of this mentality, more docile breeds, such as Holstein cattle that we raise at Cattle Empire, actually enjoy human interaction and companionship.

There is also always one leader of the herd. Just like in a large group of humans there are natural leaders that you tend to follow and lean on for direction, cattle do the same thing. There is a naturally more confident and decided animal within the group who will take charge. When moving cattle, rather than forcing them to move however you see fit it is always easier to garner the support of the lead animal. Once you convince this animal (a feed pail will usually do the trick haha) to move with you the others will follow.

Another reason cattle travel in a herd is it has proven to be a very effective survival strategy. There is strength in numbers and sticking together means you won’t be singled out by a predator. Each individual animal reduces the danger to itself in a fleeing situation by moving as close as possible to the center of the group becoming one unit moving together out of danger.

So as you can see there are several reasons why it is natural for cattle to want to stick together. Most of these reasons also relate to other herding/pack animals such as horses, birds, sheep etc.

What can we learn from this mentality when faced with our own large group?

·         Pick a leader from the start it will help ease decision making.

·         Don’t get stressed, find your support group within the crowd.

·         Don’t try to go it alone. You have so many resources surrounding you, use them!


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