How To Determine The Age Of Cow, Goat And Sheep

Cow or bull, goats and sheep are kept for several purposes; but they are commonly reared for food and profit. The age of these animals plays a great role in the provision of food for humans and profit for the farmer. Only mature and old animals control good market price. This is why farmers are implored to feed their animals adequately in the right quantity and quality so that their yield can commensurate with the age of the animals.

The most popular method of determining the age of a cow, goat or sheep is through the use of farm record. With a proper record, a farmer can confidently tell the age of the farm animals. However, in a situation where the farmer doesn’t have the record or the animal is not a native of the farm or vicinity; the use of record becomes unrealistic.

Methods used in determining the age of Cow, Goat and Sheep

You can know the age of your cow or bull using their horn and teeth; goats and sheep using their teeth. These are non-conventional ways of determining the age of the farm animals. At times, you may want to introduce a new set of animals from different sources; to ascertain their age, you can use their teeth and horn for this exercise.

These methods have a scientific backup and have been used to determine the accurate age of farm animals over the years. The logic behind these methods is very simple; it’s just a way of using the known to determine the unknown.Let me explain further:

The period at which the teeth erupt in most farm animals has been scientifically established with no dispute. It is this period that is equated to determine the age of the animals. The same logic applies to the horn too. Follow up and learn how to calculate the age of your farm animals using their teeth and horn.

How to determine the age of Cow or Bull

The age of the cow or bull can be determined or calculated using two methods.

  •        The teeth
  •       The rings on the horn.

Using the teeth to determine the age of a cow or bull

A Cow and Bull erupt their teeth in pair and it starts at the lower jaw. Like humans, cattle also have two sets of teeth, milk teeth, and permanent teeth. Only the permanent teeth are considered in the exercise.

The permanent teeth in cow and bull erupt at the age of two. Meaning after two years, the first pair of permanent teeth erupt. Before the age of 2, all the milk teeth would have emerged and fallen to allow the placement of permanent teeth.

Remember, the first pair of the permanent teeth appear after two years of age; this means that if the bull or cow has 2 teeth or a pair, the bull or cow is two years old. If you can count 4 teeth or two pairs, it means the cow is 3 years old, 3 pairs of teeth or 6 teeth mean the cow or bull is 4 years old. This is how the age reads.

I hope it’s clear.

Using the rings on the horn to determine the age of cow or bull. 

The horn is one of the physical features of a cattle. It is commonly used for defense. This horn can as well be used by the farmer to determine the age of the cow or bull.


Through the rings that circumvent the horns.

Just like the permanent teeth, the horn of a cattle emerges after the age of two. The growth of the horn is indicated by the rings that form around the horn. The ring is as a result of the extension of the horn as it grows. The higher the number of rings on the horn, the older the cattle as indicated in the formula below.

N + 2 = A

Where N is the number of rings found on the horn and A is the age of the cow or bull gotten from the simple arithmetic done.

How to determine the age of goat and sheep

The age of goats and sheep can be determined using the number of their teeth at any time. Their teeth eruption starts at about 2 months of age. On or before a year, the permanent teeth would have emerged in pairs as usual.

The milk type of middle incisor emerges on or before 2 months but at a year, they would have been replaced by the permanent incisors. The count of the age is dependent on the number of incisors present at that particular time.

When you observe two incisors or a pair of incisors, it means the goat or sheep is just a year old. When you have 4 incisors or two pairs, it means the goat or sheep is 2 years old. Additional pair of incisors adds a unit number to the age of the sheep or goat.

Without going through much stress, you can confidently determine the age of your animals using these methods, provided you do not have an adequate record to show their age.

Lastly, it must be stated that the result from these methods may not be very accurate because they do not specify the age in months but you can be sure of their age in years.

Read also: Gestation Period Of Rabbit, Cow, Goat, And Ewe

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