Eldoret Polytechnic friesian dairy cows at the institution. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Dear Daktari, I have a question, do cows have five senses like we do? Why do I ask? Because it will help me know my cows better. Njoroge John

Thanks, John, Yes, animals have five senses and probably a sixth one. I say sixth because animals can tell the future and are known to avoid natural catastrophes like Tsunamis. This is an aspect that can be tapped into as an early warning mechanism; one day we shall talk about this, but today we shall look at the five.enses help animals in their orientation to the environment and avoid stress, and a good farmer should be interested in learning more.


The eyes are the most used of all the five senses. Vision accounts for half of the sensory information that cattle put to use. However, they are not as good as ours. Cows have a limited area in front of them where they have binocular vision, hence their good judgement for distance and depth. To further refine this view, they will lower their heads and face the object of interest in their environment. The rest, on the sides, is monocular; vision is poor but good at perceiving predators.


Cows are more sensitive to sound than humans. However, humans are much better at detecting the direction or origin of sound. Cows will use their eyes in addition to their ears to try and locate the source of sounds. High-pitched, sudden sounds are stressful for cows.


To protect themselves from predators, cows have a highly evolved sense of smell. The nose has a vomeronasal organ on the roof of the mouth used to reinforce sexual interest.


Cows can discern sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and acidity. Just like humans, cows have taste buds on the tongue that are about three times the number of those on a human tongue, hence their highly selective nature.


Just like human beings, a cow’s skin can detect touch, temperature, and movement.

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