Monday, October 10, 2011

Moovelous Monday: Cow Teeth

In the spring and fall, lovely four legged ladies come over from a neighboring dairy farm to visit the Wilson Farm.  They will graze our cover crops and crop residue (what's left over after we harvest), but there is one very important tool that they each require to do so: teeth.

I know, I know, you might be thinking...this lady wrote an entire blog post on cow teeth? BORING! Well, hang with me here, you might be surprised by some of the fun facts about cow teeth.

I took this picture while coaching a Dairy Challenge team at a competition in Pennsylvania.
She apparently had something very important to say :)

Did you know that cows, along with all other 192 species of ruminants (animals that chew their cud) do not have top front teeth? Instead they have a "dental pad".  This allows them to wrap their tongue around grass and pull it into their mouth.  Then they use their BIG molars to chew. upper front teeth, but plenty of molars to grind grass and feed...

Did you know you can tell the age of a cow from it's teeth? 

This steer, "Casper", was one of the animals that was part of my graduate research.  Here he is drooling contentedly on one of my fellow students, Maciej :)

Casper had the most interesting bovine teeth I have ever seen. He never lost his "baby teeth".  I guess you can call Casper the "Peter Pan" of the bovine world...he just didn't want to grow up!

Close-ups of Casper's "double teeth", wherre his "adult" teeth had grown in, but his "baby" teeth hadn't fallen out.

If you asked my four year old daughter, C.W., who is obsessed with sharks, she would say Casper must be a part shark, because he has multiple rows of teeth :)

Did you know? Bovine teeth can also be used as substitutes for human teeth in dental studies.

Want to know more?

I also found this article about cow teeth very interesting:

Want to know if cows can bite? Visit the Zweber Farm to find out!

So why do I care so much about cow teeth?  Well, a cow's got to eat to make milk and the better she can eat, the more milk she can make.  Since I LOVE cheese, ice cream, etc, I think cow teeth are pretty important.

What's next for Moovelous Monday?  Maybe a lesson on cow tongues? They're pretty cool too!

For more facts on cows in general, check out:

USDA Animal Improvement Laboratory "Facts About Cows":

THANKS for stopping by!
Sarah :)


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  2. Thank you so much for a great post on teeth! My 3rd grader is using it as a source for her science fair project on dairy cow teeth.

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