CFAES Give Today
News Releases Archive (Prior to 2011)

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Grazing cattle (for the week of Aug. 19, 2001)

August 7, 2001

Dear Twig: The other day I went by a pasture and all of the cattle were grazing in the same direction. Do they do this all the time? Why do they do it? The answers are “No” and “We aren’t really sure.” Cattle don’t always look like a school of fish, all of them pointing the same way. But sometimes they do, and it might be for a couple of reasons. For instance, in early morning or late evening, when the sun is low and bright, cattle turn away from the glare. They don’t have any sunglasses. Cattle also turn away from the wind, at least in the winter. It seems cattle, unlike buffalo, prefer cold rears to cold ears, which might be why they don’t wear pants, although buffalo don’t wear them either. Finally, unless they’re rushed -- by the rancher, say, or by “SportsCenter” about to start -- cattle graze as they go somewhere. And they usually go get water together. So it may be that the cattle you saw were going to get water and were eating as they went. (Like people on their way to the beach, except the ocean is a trough and the Ding Dongs are grass and the cows aren’t talking on cell phones.) Animal behavior is complicated. Sometimes we don’t know why animals do what they do. But that’s part of the fun of studying them. You never know what you’ll learn! Twig "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, is a weekly science column for kids. "Twig" is a bow tie-wearing cartoon walkingstick, a type of insect. He's the voice of the column and appears at the left in the hard-copy version. "Bob the Bug," Twig's pal, is a bald-headed bug of an unidentified type who doesn't say much and appears in the bottom-right corner. For more information or to receive "Twig" columns by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, (330) 263-3776, Hey Editor! Steve Loerch, professor, Department of Animal Sciences, Ohio State University, reviewed this column.

Kurt Knebusch
Steve Loerch