Why do cows graz­ing in a field all face in the same di­rec­tion?

The Guardian - G2 - - News -

Why is it that when driv­ing past a field in which cows are graz­ing they are in­vari­ably all fac­ing in the same di­rec­tion? Adrian Burns

Cows, along with other herd­ing prey an­i­mals, graze in the same di­rec­tion so that should a preda­tor ar­rive the group will take off in the same di­rec­tion en masse. The very rea­son that herd­ing is ben­e­fi­cial is prob­a­bly to be anony­mous. Run­ning off in­di­vid­u­ally would bring you to the preda­tor’s at­ten­tion.

Galen Wal­ters

They are walk­ing in a type of for­ma­tion as they eat. They will all fol­low each other in the same trail from the front to the back of a pasture and rut it out in one sin­gle line. But when they are graz­ing, they will all move in uni­son. wood­worm20

As prey an­i­mals, cat­tle group to­gether while graz­ing for ob­vi­ous reasons. They tend to face the same way to avoid conflict within the herd. It was only fairly re­cently con­firmed that they also tend to graze along a north-south axis, when a Ger­man aca­demic study­ing the ef­fect of the Earth’s mag­netic field on African mole rats widened her stud­ies into other crea­tures. A study of graz­ing pat­terns us­ing Google Earth con­firmed this be­hav­iour. dart­moor­lady

They stand with their rear ends fac­ing the wind. By ob­serv­ing a herd of cows you can tell which way the wind is blow­ing.

John Pre­ston, Birm­ing­ham

The cows will all face into the wind. Sheep do the same.

David Jones Spald­ing

When there is no wind, they don’t all face the same way. They seem to pre­fer the wind be­hind them, which could mean ei­ther that they don’t like wind in their faces, or that they do like a breeze at the other end. If only they could tell us ... ID0622805

It’s only when you drive past. Try walk­ing and you will see them fac­ing all directions. Why hasn’t any car manufacturer ever pro­duced a solid brown­coloured car since the Austin Al­le­gro back in the 60s? What is so wrong with brown? It’s not as if it’s go­ing to show the dirt, is it? If the Vic­to­ri­ans had used plas­tic to the ex­tent we do, what state would the planet be in now?

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