let's talk farm animals

Udders on bulls?

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Udders on bulls?

Barnyard is a cute movie, but one key part of the movie leaves me shaking my head.  Not all cattle have udders.  With small children at home, we seem to have a lot of farm-themed children’s books and movies, and my husband and I are surprised at how often the bulls or calves have udders in the pictures.

Cows (the adult females) have udders which appear in the time leading up to the birth of their first calves.  The udder will vary based on how much the cow is milking, or whether or not she is pregnant, but it does not go away.

Calves and bulls will never have udders in real life.  They do have teats, but these teats are not attached to an udder until a female has been pregnant, and are never attached to an udder in males.  Males lack a mammary system, and the teats on them are extremely small throughout their life.  The principle is similar to nipples on humans.

I am sure there are people who would be unhappy with having an anatomically correct bull in children’s books and movies, but putting an udder him instead is not a good solution.  Growing up, Ferdinand the Bull was a favourite book of mine.  I agree with the choice the publishers and illustrators made of just leaving a big open space where the Barnyard illustrators put udders. 

I am sure at some point in the future I will find myself explaining to our boys why the bulls in their books and movies look different than the one in the barn.  Our boys may find themselves in turn explaining to friends at school that bulls do not have udders.  When that time comes, I will be thinking back to Ferdinand. 

And now you know!

You can check out what we mean in a Barnyard Image at http://www.allmoviephoto.com/photo/2006_barnyard_004.html


Posted by OFAC on January 14th, 2011 :: Filed under Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness
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