Difference between a Heifer and a Cow

Updated on April 19, 2017

If you do an image search and type “heifer” into the search bar, the results page will show you pictures of cows. Does this mean they are exactly the same? If you have every wondered this, this article is for you. This article will explore the difference between a heifer and a cow.

Descriptions

Heifer

The term heifer refers to a female bovine that has never had an offspring and that is under three years old. Once a heifer reaches 12 months or 14 months, it can be used for breeding. It can also be raised for its meat.

On the other hand, the term cow is used by people who raise cattle to refer to any bovine that has had at least one calf. Because it has carried a calf, a cow usually has wide hips, the middle portion of its body is thick, and its shoulders are lean.

The word “cow” is also used as a general term that refers to any bovine, regardless of its color, gender, age, breed, or size.

Heifer vs Cow

What, then, is the difference between a heifer and a cow?

The main difference between a heifer and a cow is that a heifer is a female bovine that has not had a calf and is under three years of age, whereas a cow is a bovine that has had at least one calf. A cow has wider hips and larger midbody than a heifer.

Additionally, the term “cow” is also used synonymously with “cattle” and may be used as a generic term that refers to any bovine regardless of the breed, color, age, size, or gender.

Comparison Chart

HeiferCow
Any female bovine that has not had a calf and is under three years of ageA bovine that has had a calf or two; has wider hips and larger midbody than a heifer
Only refers to a female bovine that does not have offspringAlso used as a general term that refers to any bovine regardless of breed, color, gender, or size
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