Dear readers & students -- I've been asking everybody I know of who has experience with cattle, which I think some of you do. Has anyone seen any cattle -- cow, bull, calf, heifer, bullock, etc. -- "rest a hind leg" like a horse? Both horses and cattle have an enlarged medial epicondyle to the femur -- that's a knob that is formed at the lower end of the thigh bone -- that allows them to fix the patella upward and thus cause the hind limb to "lock" in extended position, which allows the animal to stand on that leg without effort, and then usually they also flex the other hind leg and "rest" it by setting it down on the toe.
However, there is nothing that says that the anatomy that permits this absolutely has to go along with the behavior. I myself have never seen cattle do it, but my experience with cattle is limited and so I bring the question here.
This may seem like a very strange request but in fact it pertains to a scientific study I'm currently engaged upon, so it's more important than it might at first seem. Cheers -- Dr. Deb
I have worked on several dairy farms, tie stall, feedlot and pasture arrangements. NO, I have never seen a bovine rest a hind leg like a horse does. Bovines do tend to lie down to rest throughout their day.
Thanks for your reply, Forgewizard. "NO" is the answer I am expecting to hear, but....if there were one instance of it, I would love to hear about it. But "NO" is good as being the normal observatrion. -- Dr. Deb
No, but now I'm also curious as to why. I do recall in our anatomy classes you mentioned how a cow's pelvis is more rotationally flexible than a horse's. That the bucking steers can twist and kick the hat right off the bronc rider's head haha. So, maybe that has something to do with it? If they have the stay apparatus to keep the leg upright, but the pelvis can twist more, maybe they'd just lean so far over and fall down anyway?
Aloha, the idea in the study is to see if there is any correlation between leg-resting behavior and the stifle anatomy that would "theoretically" make leg resting possible. The two do not HAVE to go together, so the only way we can check on the behavior is to see if we can catch a cow doing it -- if they ever do it.
And yes, cattle do have the capability to rotate the individual lumbar joints, which horses absolutely do not; so you'll never see a bareback or saddle bronc, or even a mule, buck and kick the cowboy's hat off. But the lumbar anatomy has nothing to do with the question regarding the stifles. Cheers -- Dr. Deb