What is a Group of Cows Called?

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: April 28, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Listen to Article

Key Points

  • Cows are social animals which find the company of their relatives relaxing.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the term “cattle” does not just refer to cows but also includes any animal reared for milk and meat with cloven hooves and horns.
  • Cows herds have a social hierarchy and its members generally form bonds with each other.

Cows are unique animals. They are intelligent, sensitive, and very social. We often encounter cows in groups, either large or small. And they always seem to be perfectly content munching grass next to their family members. So what is a group of cows called? And how do they function in a group? Find out everything there is to know about cow group names and their social structures.

Is a Group of Cows Called a Herd?

Wagyu Cattle

You can call a group of cows a kine or a flink. A group of cattle is a herd, drove, yoke, team, or fold. Cattle is the collective noun for cows and bulls.

©Filmbildfabrik/Shutterstock.com

945 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

A group of cows is called a kine, and a group of cattle is called a herd. And a group of 12 cows is called a flink. Other ways to refer to cattle include drove, yoke, team, and fold. How you refer to a group of cows depends on the amount and whether you call them cattle or cows. 

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, you wouldn’t say “herd of cows;” you would say “herd of cattle.” And you wouldn’t refer to cattle as a “kine of cattle.” Instead, you would say “kine of cows.”

In fact, the word “cattle” doesn’t specifically refer to cows. It includes any large ungulate mammals with horns and cloven hoofs. But they must be domesticated for meat and milk. Cattle can be cows, oxen, yak, bison, and buffalo.

“Cow” is often used as a gender-neutral term. But cows specifically refer to females, and males are called bulls. Cattle is the collective name for cows and bulls.

Why is a Group of Cows (Cattle) Called a Drove or a Herd?

The term “herd of cattle” is a very common expression. And the word “herd” is not specific to cows. For example, “herd of elephants” is also correct. But what does “herd” mean?

A group of large animals, particularly mammals with hoofs, can be called a herd if they live, eat, and migrate together or are kept as livestock. A small cattle herd is around 30 cows, and the average herd is around 200. 

The collective noun “drove” also refers to other animals. You can use the term “drove of cattle” when a large group of cows and bulls are moving in a body. People who took cattle to market and pastures were called drovers.

How Do Cows Behave in Groups?

Herd of Jersey cows

Cows have a complicated web of social dynamics. They develop a social hierarchy within their herds, with leaders, mid-levels, and low levels.

©iStock.com/avstraliavasin

Cows are social herd animals that prefer to be in groups, either large or small. They are calmer and have better cognitive skills when around others of their species. 

Cows exhibit herd mentality, making them easy to maneuver in a specific direction when they follow the leaders of their herds. And they can communicate with moos, grunts, and non-verbal signals, like body language.

Cattle Social Structure

Cows have a complicated web of social dynamics. These animals develop a social hierarchy within their herds, with leaders (boss cows), mid-levels, and low levels. Boss cows lead the herd when directed, but they also get first dibs on food, pushing their way to the front of the line. However, cows, especially dairy cows, can be moved around frequently. When this happens, the social ladder has to be reworked, causing stress in the group. 

But cows are affectionate, even forming friendships with other cows, preferring to sit next to their buddies in their stalls.

Why Do Cows Group Together When it’s Hot?

There are many reasons why cows might huddle together when it’s hot. Here are a few:

  • Huddling in groups reduces the threat of predators
  • They can more effectively swat flies away
  • Lessens the direct sunlight and produces more shade
  • Herd bunching can be a reaction to stress
  • And finally, it could just be a behavioral instinct

FAQ

cows

 A large group of cattle is called a herd or a drove, typically consisting of around 200. A group of at least 12 cows is a flink.

©iStock.com/criene

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about “what is a group of cows called?”

What is a Large Group of Cows Called?

 A large group of cattle is called a herd or a drove, typically consisting of around 200.

What is a Group of Baby Cows Called?

A baby cow is called a calf. And they are also known as a herd when in groups.

What is a Group of 12 or More Cows Called?

A group of 12 or more cows is called a flink.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Toltek


Share on:
About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.