Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Is Bovine?

By Jen Drake, eHow Contributing Writer

Bovinae is a scientific classification for a specific subfamily of mammals that includes cows, oxen and buffalo. Members of the Bovinae subfamily, specifically cattle, are commonly called bovines. Bovines are part of a larger family, Bovidae, which also includes antelope, sheep and goats.


According to zoologist Brent Huffman, the earliest traces of bovines were found in Asia about 18.5 million years ago. Bovine animals tend to have larger bodies than other members of the Bovidae family due to the cooler climates in which they evolved. While some bovine species remain wild, many have been domesticated by humans.


Bovines are heavy animals typically weighing about 440 pounds, though some can be as heavy as 1,100 pounds. Male bovines tend to weigh more than females, and adult males grow horns. In a few bovine species, the females also have horns, though they are smaller than those found in their male counterparts. Bovines are considered ungulates, meaning they are mammals with hooves.
Bovine Disease

Bovines have gained notoriety in recent years because of the outbreak of mad cow disease. Known to scientists as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or BSE), mad cow disease appeared in cattle in the 1970s and 1980s. By the mid-1990s, the disease became epidemic in humans. At the peak of the epidemic in the United Kingdom in 1993, approximately 1,000 people were infected each week. BSE did not peak in the U.S. and Canada until 2006. While the epidemic has largely subsided, mad cow disease remains a threat today.

Bovine Benefits

In addition to being an important food source for humans, cattle are instrumental in technological advances. According to the National Geographic website, scientists can use bacteria found in the stomachs of cows and in cow manure to produce electricity that can power microbial fuel cells, making the bacteria a natural substance to produce clean, renewable energy.

Bovines as Food

Many types of bovine are a food source around the world. Cattle provide both milk and beef--both staples of a traditional American diet. Hindus, however, consider bovines sacred animals and do not eat them. According to PBS, India outlaws the killing or injuring of a cow. The Hindus' deference for cows stems from their earliest religious texts in which Lord Krishna vowed to take care of cows. In fact, the term "sacred cow" refers to something that is to be held in the highest regard and is never to be sacrificed.


Nairuz said...

i like the idea how scientist used the bacteria in the cow's stomach to generate electricity.

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