Difference Between Cows and Heifers (With Table)

Cows vs Heifers

Both Cow and Heifer come under the class of Mammalia in kingdom Animalia. Normally a female offspring of a cow, that hasn’t yet borne any child is called a Heifer. A fully grown up heifer that has given birth to another offspring is called a Cow.

Cows come under the class Mammalia because of their ability to feed their offsprings with their milk. The gland which produces milk is called mammary glands and nipples are present beneath them for the calves to suck them.  Their physical appearance and weight are depended on the breed from which they originate.

Heifer(Cow) is a young female cow, that is under three years and has not yet given birth to any calf. Once she gives birth to a child, a heifer automatically becomes a Cow. A heifer must have at least one calf, and only then she can begin to produce milk.

The main difference between a Cow and a Heifer is that a Cow is fully grown and is ready to reproduce. But Heifers are still immature females that haven’t fully grown.


Comparison Table Between Cows and Heifers (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonCowHeifer
ReproductionCows can reproduce calves and they can have 2-4 calves in a lifetime.Heifers are immature and cannot reproduce at this period of life.
Milk SecretionCows produce milk through their mammary glands and have mature nipples to secrete it to the calves.Heifers can only suck the milk that mature cows produce and it takes at least a delivery to start producing milk for their younger ones.
Composition of BodyWhen it comes to the health composition of cows, cows have been reported to have lesser fatty acids as compared to heifers.Heifers have a better composition of fatty acids in them and hence they are more healthy to consume.
UddersThe cows have very developed udders.Heifers do not seem to have udders.
VulvaThe vulva is the primary reproductive organ of the cow. This is present below the tail head of the cow. This structure is more protruding in fully-fledged cows.Vulvas are not prominent in Heifers and this is the reason why they haven’t reproduced yet.


What are Cows?

Generally, cows are collectively called the female version of cattle. But colloquially we use the term ‘Cow’ to denote them. Cows have matured females that can reproduce. They come from the bovine family of kingdom Animalia. A baby cow is called a calf, regardless of sex. 

Cows come from the order Artiodactyla. They have the mammals who possess even-toed hoofs. Cows also have horns in the upper part of their body. This is a special possession for the ones present in the Bovinae.  Mature female cows weigh around 1000kgs. The physical appearance of cows can differ from the regions where they exist.

 Since cows possess the ability to reproduce, they also can secrete milk for their younger ones through nipples which is present at the bottom of their belly. Cows are to be milked two times a day per week. This is for the better production of milk in them.

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Cows are ruminants who graze. Grass continues to be the natural food that cows feed upon. Their tooth structure is perfectly made up to chew the grass the feed. They possess a for chambered stomach and the largest chamber is called the rumen.

The rumen contains the microorganisms that help them to digest cellulose. All these four chambers digest the same food before the digestion period ends. This multi-chambered process is similar to all the ruminants. Cows are one of the humans’ most friendly animals and a livestock occupation to many dairy farmers worldwide.

Cows 1

What are Heifers?

Heifer is a female offspring of a cow that hasn’t yet given birth to any child. Heifers grow up to become a cow, but until it reproduces, it is tagged as a heifer. All the genetic details of heifers remain the same as that of the cow.

Heifers weigh almost 50% of their matured weight at this stage. At this period in their life, all the body parts including their horns grow, to reach their complete growth. At this stage, heifers do not have matured reproductive organs as cows and cannot produce younger ones.

Also, the teats of heifers are not fully grown to secrete milk. Heifers are known to be the best ones to consume, they are also known for their taste. A heifer which is pregnant with its’ first calf is called a Bred Heifer. If a heifer does not breed after four years of age, it is called as heiferettes.


Main Differences Between Cows and Heifers

  • A cow is a mature female bovine while a heifer is an immature offspring of a cow.
  • Both of them come from bovine family, but heifers are the female calves of a cow that grow up to be cowed.
  • A cow can reproduce it’s own younger ones since it has matured organs for reproduction. However, heifers are unable to do so because of their immaturity.
  • Heifers do not have udders and prominent nipples. But the vulvas of cows are large enough for insemination and can thus get pregnant.
  • Heifers attain 50% of the total weight that they can attain in their lifetime, at this stage. Cows are 1000 kilograms and this is just an average. The weight of a cow can vary according to its surroundings.
  • Cows can vary in size and physical appearances according to their environment. Heifers generally are seen with the same genetics of their parents.



Both cows and heifers come from the kingdom of Animalia and belong to the family Bovidae. After a gestation period of 283 days, a cow can bear a calf which if turns a female becomes a heifer until it reproduces. due to its existence in the Mammalian class, cows can feed its little ones using its milk.

Cows and heifers contribute a lot towards livestock and dairy farming and is a way of income to many farmers. The physical appearance and genetic composition of cows vary from place to place. Thus cows are one of the best animals, nature has gifted humans.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Cows and Heifers

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Cows and Heifers. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

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Cows and heifers