Apr 15

Male cows? A lot of bull

Please stop staring at me like that. I promise you, I'm a bull - not a male cow.

Please stop staring at me. I promise, I’m a bull – not a male cow.

I’d just made morning coffee for a visitor when I spotted cattle meandering down the road.

The visitor agreed to help return them to their paddock, saying he’d seen them on the road and, in retrospect, should have mentioned them.

Townie, I thought.

And, he said, he’d have sworn they were cows.

Townie, I thought.

This is a bull farm and bulls don’t get enough credit. Most terminology relating to cattle farming presumes the livestock are cows: cow dung, cow pat, cowboy. Have you ever heard of bull dung, bull pat, bullboy?

Words prefixed by ‘bull’ have nothing to do with farming and everything to do with aggression: bulldoze, bull headed, bullfight. There’s also that other word: bullshit.

In the kids’ cartoon movie Barnyard, the bulls even have udders. They are big, brutish and brawny, while the cows wear pastel-coloured bows.

An offended movie reviewer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, refused to see the movie, saying it “takes liberties with mammalian anatomy”. The promotional material even described one character as a “male cow”.

On an Internet forum, correspondents jokingly suggested the movie is a gay/lesbian conspiracy and that the bulls have had sex change operations.

One delicate individual said, “Udders are probably more appropriate than the alternative.” Really?

Unbelievably, on Wikipedia and Yahoo, people asked: Do bulls have udders?

And more unbelievably, someone claiming to be “an old farm boy”, responded: “Cow is a generic term for bovines.” Really?

“There are female cows and there are male cows,” he wrote. “A female cow is called a COW, a male cow is called a BULL.”

Does it therefore follow that a female man is called a woman and a male woman is called a man?

Someone else weighed in with: “Female cows have udders. Bulls have the ‘other’ tools.”

When our guest and I began herding the cattle home I realised he was right. They were indeed cows – they had escaped and walked four kilometres to our place.

It also turned out the visitor had a lifestyle block and knew how to handle cattle. As I drove, he bounded along the road keeping them moving and preventing them from jumping a cattle stop into a bull paddock – or should that be a cow stop into a male cow paddock?

About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.


  1. Jenn J McLeod

    LOL You’ve done it again, Rae. You make me laugh out loud everytime! No bull****. (I am now trying to remember how I referred to Muddy – my ribbon winning cow… or was that bull…. in House for all Seasons!!!! *wink*

    1. Rae Roadley

      That would be a female bull in the same way you’re a female man… it’s tough to keep up. And thanks for you kind words.

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