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Cow Talk

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

A few mornings ago, while I was out on the front porch shaking out a rug, I noticed Kitty, one of my granddaughter Megan’s old 4-H cows, standing just over the front yard fence. Kitty spied me, looked at me, and mooed. She loves to “moo,” so much so that it seems that she is always talking. I’ve named it Kitty’s “cow talk”.

I have no idea what Kitty was trying to tell me. Maybe it was just “Hi there!” Perhaps it was “What are you doing?” or “Are you getting ready to go back to the corral?” or “There isn’t very much to eat out here” (the little pasture has been used heavily as a feed lot over the years and is now mostly weeds), or most anything else. Maybe I just surprised her by standing there shaking out a rug.

Kitty is not only a talker, but her voice is recognizable even though she’s not nearby. I can tell that the moos are coming from her if I’m in the house, out in the yard, or just getting out of the car when returning home. Since I keep a pretty strict routine, the cows expect to see me in early afternoon when I check water at the corral and give them a hay snack. Kitty starts in with her talking around that time to remind me that I’m supposed to be there. “Moo, moo; it’s time, it’s time.”



Over the years, her talking has let us know that she needs privacy when she’s ready to calve.

“Moo, moo; everything’s fine. Don’t pay attention to me.” And then later, “Look at my new calf.”

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Kitty has always had plenty to say to her calves, too: “Stop running with those other calves right now! Come here and lie down!”

I remember one time when the cows were finishing breakfast. Kitty’s calf was sprawled out on some hay, in a deep sleep. As with many sleeping calves, he was probably dreaming. Kitty mooed to him, apparently trying to awaken him so they could follow the other cows and calves into the front pasture. Finally, when he didn’t respond, she walked over next to him and bawled into his ear. “Moo, moo! Get up! Get up!”

The calf awoke, quite bewildered, and it took him some time to realize where he was. Finally he got up and wobbled after his mom.

Although Kitty is the most vociferous of all the cows, some of their bawls are recognizable as well. When my old Sarah cow was alive, she often mooed softly while looking at me. Perhaps she wanted more grain or to be brushed, or maybe she wanted me to know she cared for me. Whatever it was, I still remember her gentleness. However, I digress. There’s still more to write about cow communication in general. However, Kitty is talking again; it’s time to do afternoon chores. More later.


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