Martok
May 16, 2011
Tallow was once the popular choice for candles
Photo by Sue Weaver
Cows were once popular for their tallow, or animal fat, which was used to make candles.

A few weeks ago, Mom let me blog about sheep trivia from the book she’s writing. People liked it, so here’s some fun facts about cows:

  • The Latin word for money, pecunia, comes from the Latin word pecu, meaning “cattle.”

  • Obscure groups of animals fact: a group of 12 or more cows is called a flink.
  • There are 44 references to milk in the Old Testament. The cow is mentioned 34 in the Bible and four times in the Koran.
  • The word “steak” comes from the Old Norse word steik, which meant “meat on a stick.” When the Scandinavian Saxons invaded Great Britain, they cooked their beef on a pointed stick over a fire.
  • In Egypt, the sacred bull, Apis, was considered a manifestation of the creator god, Ptah. Each incarnation of Apis was black with an inverted triangle of white on its brow or a crescent on its side.
  • Christopher Columbus brought the first Spanish cattle to the Americas in 1493.
  • The first British cattle arrived at Jamestown, Va., in May 1611 and were eaten the following winter. The next group of cattle arrived at Plymouth Colony in 1624, when Edward Winslow returned from Devonshire, England, with three heifers and a bull.
  • A furlong (660 feet or 201.168 meters) is a furrow long, or the distance a team of oxen was expected to plow between rests in olden days.
  • Oxen and water buffaloes outdistance and outwork horses when traveling through or working in deep mire. Their cloven hooves spread, so their wide feet don’t sink as deeply as do those of the solid-hoofed horse. The cleft between a bovine’s toes also permit air to enter the hole in the mud as the foot is raised, whereas the horse must overcome a partial vacuum when it withdraw its hoof, thus wasting considerable muscular effort.
  • Fat cattle were once in vogue because tallow (animal fat) was a valuable product both as a dietary substance and for making candles.
  • Before milking machines were invented in 1894, farmers could milk about six cows per hour. Today, farmers use machines to milk more than 100 cows per hour.
  • There are approximately 340 to 350 squirts in a gallon of milk.
  • Words for the sounds cows make are onomatopoeic, meaning they’re spelled like they sound. In America, we say they “moo.” Here’s what they cows say around the world. (I like Korean best.)

      Afrikaans: moe-moe
      Albanian: mu
      Catalan, Croatian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Ukrainian: muuu
      Czech: bu
      Danish: muh, moe
      Dutch: boeh
      Estonian, Italian, Montenegrin, Slovene, Swedish: muu
      Finnish: ammuu
      French: meuh
      German: muh, mmuuh
      Hungarian: búúú, mu
      Icelandic: mu
      Indonesian: moh
      Japanese: mau
      Korean: um-muuuu
      Lithuanian: muuuuu
      Norwegian: møøøø
      Turkish: mööö

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