6 Crucial Difference Between Heifer and Cow with Table

What is the difference between heifer and cow?

Heifer and cow belong to the same class and kingdom. This makes them share a lot but there are a few distinctive features that make them appear different.

The term heifer is not commonly used by people but it is a type of cow that possesses some physical differences. The term cow is commonly used and many have used it commonly to refer to a heifer.

The main difference between heifer and cow is that heifer is a female offspring of a cow likely below three years of age but has not yet given birth to a calf while a cow is a fully grown heifer that has given birth to another offspring.

Difference Between Heifer and Cow

Comparison Table (Heifer vs Cow)

Characteristics Heifer Cow
Definition It is a female offspring of a cow likely below three years of age but has not yet given birth to a young one. It is a fully grown heifer that has given birth to another offspring.
Reproduction They are immature and are not able to reproduce at this period of life. They can reproduce 2 to 4 calves in a lifetime.
Vulva It is not prominent. It is more protruding.
Udders They seem to have very small or completely do not have udders. They have very well-developed udders.
Composition of the body They have more fatty acids in them hence they are healthier to consume. They have fewer fatty acids in them.
Milk secretion They do not have well-developed mammary glands hence not able to produce milk. They have well-developed mammary glands hence able to produce milk.
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What is Heifer?

Heifer is a young female cow about three years of age. They have not yet given birth to offspring but can grow up to a mature cow and give birth to young ones.

All the genetic details in a heifer remain the same as it grows to a fully grown cow. At this stage of growth, they weigh about 50% of their mature size.

They do not have mature reproductive systems and this makes their vulva not to be prominent. Also, they do not seem to have an udder at this stage or they have a very small udder.

They are regarded as the best for consumption as they contain a lot of fatty acids hence making their flesh to be sweet and tender.

When a heifer is pregnant with its first calf it is called bred heifer or first calf heifer. In case it does not breed after four years, it is called heiferettes.

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What is a Cow?

A cow is a mature grown female offspring and has already given birth to at least two calves. The cow is mature and all its organs are mature.

They have horns on their upper side of their body. They have the weight of about 100 kilograms but their physical appearance differs according to the region where they are raised.

As they have ever reproduced, their reproductive organs are well-developed. Their vulva is protruding, their udder is well-developed and they are able to secrete milk for their young ones.

They are ruminants who graze. They entirely depend on grass as their only source of food. The teeth structure is modified to chew the grass well.

They possess a four-chambered stomach and this makes the digestion to be complete. They have rumen that contains microorganism that enables them to digest cellulose.

Main Differences between Heifer and Cow

  1. Heifer is an immature female cow while the cow is a mature fully grown cow.
  2. Heifer does not have a prominent vulva while a cow has a prominent vulva.
  3. Heifer has a small udder or seems not to have while a cow has a well-developed udder.
  4. Heifer cannot secrete milk while a cow can secret milk.
  5. Heifer is not able to reproduce young ones at this stage as their reproductive organs are not fully developed while cows can reproduce young ones as their reproductive organs are fully developed.
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Similarities between Heifer and Cow

  1. They are both female bovines.
  2. They both belong to the same class.
  3. They are both herbivores.
  4. They both have the same genetic patterns.

In Conclusion

Heifers and cows belong to the bovine family. They share a lot of features only that they are more pronounced in cows than in heifers.

Heifers do not have a fully grown reproductive system and that why they are not able to reproduce at this stage. Cows have a fully grown reproductive system hence they are able to reproduce.

The main feature that makes heifer different from cows is age. Heifers are younger while cows are older.

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