Oxen Vs Cow

Oxen Vs Cow: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to domesticated animals, oxen and cows are two of the most commonly known species. However, do you know what sets them apart from each other? Although both of them belong to the Bovidae family, they have quite different characteristics and purposes. In this article, we will explore the differences between oxen and cows and provide you with all the information you need.

What are Cows?

Cows are female adult bovines that are commonly raised for meat, milk, and breeding purposes. They are herbivores and graze on grass and hay. The term “cow” is often used to refer to all cattle in general, but it solely describes the female species. They weigh between 1,100 to 1,500 pounds on average and can produce up to 6-7 gallons of milk per day.

Cows come in different breeds, such as Holstein, Angus, Jersey, and Guernsey, to name a few. Each breed has specific physical characteristics that make them suitable for different purposes. For example, Holsteins are great milk producers, while Angus cattle are commonly used for beef.

What are Oxen?

Oxen, on the other hand, are a type of domesticated cattle that have been trained to do heavy work, such as plowing and hauling objects. Oxen are typically male cattle that have been castrated at a young age, which allows them to grow into larger and stronger animals. They are often used instead of horses for heavy agricultural work as they require less food and are more durable.

Oxen can weigh anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 pounds on average and have muscular bodies with rounded backs. They have a slow-paced, plodding gait, making them ideal for pulling heavy objects steadily. Some of the most common breeds used for work include Devon, Freisan, and Scottish Highland.

Differences between Oxen and Cows

Size and Weight: Oxen are on average much larger and heavier than cows. They are also more muscular and have a more robust build.

Use and Purpose: Cows are raised for meat, milk, and breeding purposes, while oxen are trained and used for heavy agricultural work like plowing and hauling.

Breeds: While cows come in various breeds for different purposes, oxen breeds are primarily those that are larger and more robust to facilitate their work and function.

Temperament: Cows are usually more docile and easygoing, while oxen can be temperamental and stubborn, requiring more training and experience to handle.

Housing: Cows are commonly raised in barns or pastures, while oxen typically spend most of their lives outdoors in fields.

Feeding: Cows are herbivores and feed on grass and hay, while oxen require a higher intake of food due to their size and workload.


In summary, cows and oxen are two distinct species of domesticated cattle that serve different purposes. Cows are primarily used for meat, milk, and breeding, while oxen contribute to agricultural work. Both require different breeds, care, and feeding, and possess unique physical and behavioral characteristics. Understanding the differences between them can help you make informed decisions about raising, handling, and utilizing these animals.