A cow is a bovine that has been domesticated for the production of milk and meat. Cows are raised primarily on grasslands called pastures. Other types of land are also used for grazing, such as farms and ranches.
Cows have been domesticated since at least the 5th millennium BC. Worldwide, there are approximately 1.3 billion cows, with 85% of these being in India and China.
Cattle were originally identified as three separate species: Bos taurus (European cattle), Bos indicus (zebu), and the extinct Bos primigenius (aurochs). The aurochs is ancestral to both zebu and European cattle. These have been reclassified as one species, Bos primigenius, with three subspecies: Bos primigenius primigenius, Bos primigenius indicus, and Bos primigenius taurus.
Humans began domesticating cattle in multiple locations throughout the world independently during the Neolithic Revolution about 10,500 years ago. These domestic herds are thought to have originated from wild populations of aurochs from Asia who had been first domesticated in the Levant.
Last modified: October 13, 2022