Cows are Able to swim, they float and forward movement is done in a trotting/dog paddle motion. They need to keep their heads above water. the Largest Recorded Distance has been 3 Miles.
Are Cows able to Float on Water?
Cows are great swimmers. Most mammalian macrofauna has evolved in environments including rivers and lakes. These geographical features require swimming for foraging and migration, which are important for survival.
Some domesticated cattle varieties bred for special muscular characteristics or dairy output may not be conditioned for effective swimming. If the animal can walk without trouble, then it can probably swim if necessary.
A cow can swim very well. Cows are wading in ponds, lakes. In general, cows are good swimmers and can swim for several miles as long as they don’t grow tired. A cow that grows tired or becomes ill has trouble keeping afloat and instead of seeking dry land. Cows may enjoy a nice cool down on a hot summer day.
Cows can swim, even from a young age. Cowboys will often use horses go guide cattle across a river when changing pastures. Some types of cattle will even enter the water and swim without encouragement.
Some species tend to have a natural ability or instinct to swim. This is true for cows, and even very young calves can swim a short distance.
How can you Teach Your Cows to Swim?
If very young calves can swim, it stands to reason that you might wonder if cows have to learn to swim. Many studies were done on a variety of mammals in regards to swimming, so science does have some information for us on this topic.
According to Frank Fish, aquatic locomotion experts at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, mammals will tend to float and, if they can float, they can swim.
Given that statement, we can reasonably infer that the reverse is also true. If an animal can swim, it can float.
Cows Known as Water Babies
Like many animals, there are two things cows don’t like, being hot and dealing with biting insects. Luckily, if there is water nearby, a cow can solve her problems.
Do Cows like Water and Enjoy Swimming?
Many cows love the water and enjoy wading in water bodies to keep cool and avoid biting insects. Cattle typically only naturally swim when they have a specific destination to reach.
If there isn’t a lake, river, or pond nearby, many cows will settle for whatever water is available. For example, this dairy cow is making excellent use of her water trough to cool off on a warm day.
Water Safety with Cows:
Cows can swim, and some cows even like swimming. Even so, care should be taken with your cows. It is possible to teach your cows to like swimming, but you should do so carefully.
Anytime your cow is exposed to an open body of water, you should make sure that they can easily enter and exit. Just because cows can swim, doesn’t mean they can swim indefinitely.
If a cow falls into water, they need a way to get out before becoming too tired and drown. In most cases, natural bodies of water will have sloping banks allowing a cow to swim to shore and easily exit the water.
Unnatural bodies of water, like swimming pools and irrigation ditches, often have much steeper sides. In these cases, if a cow finds herself in the water, she may have trouble getting out.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Putting a fence around your swimming pool and any irrigation ditches will keep an accident from happening.
Famous Swimming Cows:
The Cows of Crom:
In the UK, a heard of cattle live on the Crom Estate on land surrounded by a network of rivers that create a series of islands. On a routine basis, sometimes daily, these cattle are encouraged to switch pastures or grazing areas by swimming across the river.
The cattle are experienced swimmers and easily make the 100m trek (about 328 feet). When new cattle are introduced to the herd, more experienced cows lead the way, entering the water first and giving the new swimmers confidence to follow and cross.
Dorian’s disappearing Cows:
Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas in 2019. While the Bahamas seemed to have taken the worst of it, Dorian left behind a wide path of destruction.
A small group of cattle was found roaming Cedar Island in North Carolina just after Hurricane Dorian hit.
According to a park ranger, these three cows are not native inhabitants of the island.
Instead, it is believed that they probably originated from the mainland and, during the storm, somehow managed to swim or float the 2-3 miles out to the island.
Not only did these cows swim almost 3 miles, but they would have done so in rough weather as well.
So how Far can Cattle Swim?
Most cattle cannot naturally swim long distances without experience. In 2019, 3 cows were able to swim 3 miles from North Carolina to Cape Lookout National Seashore during Hurricane Dorian.
In India, racing cattle is a traditional sport many farmers participate in. The types of cattle races vary by region, but the practice is steeped in tradition.
To train their prized animals for competition, many farmers will use swimming as a form of exercise. As with human athletes, this undoubtedly reduces stress on the cow and will still be an excellent way to increase muscle tone and improve cardiovascular performance.
While not traditionally water-borne animals, cows can swim and float. Some will even enjoy the task. Knowing this can make the average person much more at ease if they see a cow wading in a pond or other water bodies. So the next time you see a cow cooling off, remember that as long as she doesn’t appear to be in distress, she should be ok in the water.
Cattle have used water for cooling probably for as long as there have been cattle. The last survey done in Florida reported that 30% of the dairies had cooling ponds. The reader should be aware that cooling ponds, if not maintained properly, could harbor infectious diseases such as Leptospirosis and many mastitis organisms. The water usage is very high to fill and keep full.
Environmental concerns that must be addressed are the runoff from ponds and ground seepage. Every state seems to have many regulations that must be addressed before building cooling ponds. Again, this paper will deal with the benefits of cooling ponds and some suggestions on building and maintaining them. It is the dairymen’s responsibility to use them properly and be aware that ponds can harbor diseases, and the pond water must be dealt with according to state and local laws.
What is a Cooling Pond for Dairy Cattle?
For this discussion, they are a human-made hole in the ground with a constant inflow of clean, fresh water. Usually, the ponds drain or overflow from the top. If a series of ponds are used, the overflow water may be run into a retention pond to be sprayed on crops or enter the waste management system. Cooling ponds may also be fed from springs or artesian wells. So cooling ponds for dairy cattle should have constant freshwater and a constant outflow of water to someplace for proper disposal.
Cement ponds may also be built. These may drain from the bottom and can be used to flush feed lanes or barns. Bottom draining will help remove some of the solids that have settled to the bottom of the pond. Care must be taken on the entrance and exit to cement ponds. These may be water entering, a lagoon, a wallow, and a mudhole do not classify as a cooling pond for dairy cattle.
Ideally, a site near the feed and drinking water with some form of shade for cows is best. The idea is for cows to cool, leave the pond, and eat and drink, lay down in the shade, and then do it all over again. If cows do not have feed and drinking water near, they will stay in the pond and not eat, and you will have cool wrinkled cows that do not give much milk.
There must be a way to dispose of runoff water properly. This will vary by area of the country. Some slop from the ponds to the waste management area would be helpful, so pumps need not be used.
Cooling ponds should not be too far from the milking parlor as a long walk in the sun increase heat stress. Exist lane sprinklers help make the long walk more comfortable.
The Basic Consideration for a Pond:
Sandy soil bottoms in Florida cooling ponds seem to seal themselves. Most soils would probably do this; however, I have no idea how far as feet are going into the clay. There should do no sharp rock to injury feet in the ponds or on the exit or entrance to the ponds.
If feet stick in the mud in the bottom of the ponds or the entrance or exit lanes of the ponds, cow carpet can be used to cover the pond bottom and its entrance and exit. A carpet usually comes in 20-foot widths and can be sewn together to make a wide area that will protect crows’ feet from going any farther than the carpet surface. This carpet can also be used in cow lanes. It costs about 1.00 dollars a square yard. There are many suppliers of cow carpet or road underlayment cloth.
Concrete ponds will work and have been used, but they are expensive to build. However, they are easier to maintain, as the entrances and exits do not have to be rebuilt. The finish of the concrete on the exit and entrance slope should be cross-grooved to prevent cows from falling. A 1:8 slope will be a safe slope if concrete ponds are constructed.
Sizing Cooling Ponds:
There is no official listing for cooling pond size. If a holding area requires 15/ft square/cow and cows are driven into a pond and taken out as a group, 15/ft square/cow might be adequate. If 15/ft square/cow is recommended for most general animal space, this might be the correct figure for a cooling pond. This amount of space would allow cows to enter and exit the pond when all cows were not using the pond at the same time. If 50/ft square/cow for a pond is used, then 5000/ft square is needed for the 100 cow group.
Pond Shapes and Depths:
Using the sample of 5000/ft square/100 cows, a pond could be 50’ wide by 100’ long, or a circle 80’ in diameter. If a 50’ by 100’ pond is used and sides are fenced so the cows can only enter or exit at each end of the pond, the amount of dirt falling into the pond will be reduced. If a circular pond is made, cow carpet should be eliminated the problem of dirt falling in the pond. As cows can swim, pond depth is not a problem. Deeper ponds may allow the setting of organic matter on the bottom of the pond. This organic matter may not be disturbed by cows walking through it as they will swim over the top of it. Preference should be given to depths of 3’ or 4’ as it seems to cool the cows and let them stand and walk in and out at will. While deep ponds allow cows to submerge, they do not seem to like to float too long, so they go where they can stand and may block cow traffic. A circular pond that is deep in the middle lets cows dunk themselves while others enter and exit the pond at will.
A 100 cow group with 50/ft square /cow could have a 50’ wide by 100’ long by 3’ deep cooling pond. A cooling pond 50’ wide by 100’ long by an average 3’ deep=15000/ft square. There are 7.48 gallons/ft square. Thus the pond requires 112,200 gallons of water.
World Cattle Breeder Associations
|National Cattleman's Beef Associations||United States||NCBA|
|United States Cattlemans Association||United States||USCA|
|Ohio Cattlemans Association||Ohio||OCA|
|American Angus Association||United States||AAA|
|United Kingdom Cattle Associations||UK||UKCA|
|Australia Cattle Associations||Australia||ACA|