Can a Cow and Horse Crossbreed?

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Raising farm animals is an exciting adventure but most farmers will see things they were not expecting. At some point, they may see or have seen a cow mounting a horse or vice versa. The sight is shocking, to say the least, but should farmers be worried about cows and horses crossbreeding?

Cows and horses cannot crossbreed even though they can mate. Their size and body composition make mating possible, while their genetics make successful breeding impossible. They can, however, crossbreed with other animals that may be on a farm.

It is important to learn which animals can and cannot crossbreed with cows and horses. Some animals of different species within the same animal family can successfully crossbreed.

Understanding a little more about cows and horses is helpful in determining which farm animals can be pastured together without crossbreeding.

Animal Classification

All animals belong to scientific categories based on their physical characteristics and genetic similarities. Animals are classified within 8 taxonomic ranks. The smallest and most closely related of these ranks is the species.

Each species belongs to a specific genus that includes other related species. Animals within the same genus belong to a subfamily within a specific family of animals. (source)

Crossbreeding

Animals within the same subfamily of animals are sometimes able to successfully crossbreed.

Animals that belong to different families of animals do not belong to the same subfamily, therefore, they cannot crossbreed successfully.

Crossbreeding is the effective breeding of two animals of different species or breeds as a result of mating. The offspring of two animals of different species is referred to as a hybrid.

Can a Horse and Cow Mate?

Yes, a horse and a cow can successfully mate with one another. Mating is the physical act of joining in an effort to breed, specifically by a male animal mounting a female animal.

Their size and body composition make it possible for a cow to mate with a horse and vice versa.

Can a Horse and Cow Crossbreed?

cow and horse in the field

No, a horse and a cow cannot crossbreed with one another. Their genetics make it impossible for them to create a hybrid offspring.

Cows belong to the Bovidae family of animals, while horses belong to the Equidae family of animals. (source) This means that horses and cows are too far separated DNA-wise to crossbreed successfully. (source)

Can a Cow and Pig Mate?

A cow and a pig can mate, if they are the right size to allow for one to mount the other. Some pigs can get rather large and it is possible, in the right circumstances, for a pig and a cow to mate.

cow and pic eating grass

Can a Cow and Pig Crossbreed?

Just because a cow and a pig can physically mate with one another, that does not mean that they can crossbreed. Pigs belong to the Suidae family of animals, while cows do not. (source) This means cows and pigs cannot successfully crossbreed to produce offspring.

Can a Cow and Bison Mate?

Cows and bison are both large animals, with bison often being even larger than cattle in most instances. Thanks to their size and physical similarities, cows, and bison can mount one another and mate.

Can a Cow and Bison Crossbreed?

cow and bison in the field

Yes, cows and bison can crossbreed! Cows and bison belong to the same animal subfamily, the Bovinae. Bison specifically belong to the Bison genus, although some scientists prefer to classify them in the Bos genus along with cows, due to their similarities. (source)

Since bison and cows are so close genetically, they can successfully crossbreed and produce offspring. American bison, often called plains buffalo, and domestic cattle hybrid crosses are known as beefalo! European bison are called wisent and can crossbreed with cows as well.

Can a Cow and Buffalo Mate?

Cows and buffalo can easily mate with one another. Their size and physical makeup allow them to mount one another and mate in certain circumstances.

For this article, the term buffalo includes the water buffalo, the cape buffalo, and the plains buffalo (also known as American bison).

buffalo in the grass field

Can a Cow and Buffalo Crossbreed?

Cows and buffalo can successfully crossbreed and produce offspring together! Cows and all species of buffalo belong to the Bovinae subfamily of the Bovidae family of animals.

They are all so closely related that they could crossbreed and produce hybrid offspring.

Can You Breed a Donkey and a Cow?

Donkeys and cows can mate with one another, but they cannot be crossbred to create hybrid offspring. Donkeys are members of the Equidae family of animals while cows are not, making it impossible for them to successfully crossbreed.

What Animals Can Horses Crossbreed With?

cow and horse

Horses can successfully crossbreed with other species within the same Equidae family. Minus long extinct animals, this now only includes donkeys and zebras. A horse and donkey hybrid is known as a mule or hinny. A horse and zebra hybrid is called a zebroid or zorse.

What Animals Can Cows Crossbreed With?

Cows are able to crossbreed with several animals within their Bovinae subfamily. Of course, cows can crossbreed with other cows of various breeds, but they can also produce hybrid offspring with bison, buffalo, water buffalo, yaks, and wisents.

CowsHorses
BisonDonkeys
YakZebra
Buffalo (water, cape and plains)—–
Wisent (European bison)

What is a Jumart?

A jumart is the fictional hybrid of a horse and a cow. (source) A quick internet search will yield various ‘historical’ accounts of the hybrid animal as well as drawings and seemingly photoshopped images.

While the combination would be interesting to see, the genetics make the combination scientifically impossible.

Final Thoughts

Horses and cows cannot crossbreed and produce offspring, but they can mount one another and mate in certain situations. Cows as well as horses can mate and crossbreed with animals more closely related to them genetically. There is no need to worry about your horses and cows creating a cow-horse hybrid if you catch them mating, but you may still want to separate them for safety reasons!

April Lee

I have a love for all things farmhouse design. I am currently working on designing a custom built farmhouse from the ground up. While the actual build is a few years out, I am using this blog as a place to consolidate all of my research and design ideas. I hope that you find the information here helpful so that you too can have the farmhouse of your dreams! Remember, you don't need a farmhouse to implement farmhouse design in any space.