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Why Cows Huddle Together and Other Cow Behaviors Explained

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If you own cattle or have been around them for any significant amount of time, you may notice that cows like to huddle together.

It is a behavior that is seen often on cattle farms, but you may be scratching your head wondering exactly why they do this.

Cows huddle together for many reasons, the main one being self-preservation. Cows will huddle together to cool off, to deter insects, to protect themselves and more. Knowing exactly why your cows are huddled together is the key to keeping them safe and out of harm’s way.

It is important to know why cows like to huddle together so that you can decide whether you need to intervene or simply let them be.

The more you know about your cows and their innate obsession with huddling, the less stressful it will be to care for them.  

Why Do Cows Huddle Together?

Cows are herd animals by nature and will gravitate toward each other in certain situations.

Here are just a few of the most common reasons why your cows may be huddled up.

They are Trying to Cool Off

Cows like to huddle together in warm weather to try and produce some amount of shade and lessen the direct sunlight.

They also may all be trying to stand under a limited amount of shaded area, making it look like they are all huddled together.

They are Blocking the Wind

In windy weather, cows will sometimes huddle together to try and block high winds.

By grouping closely together, cows can block some of the wind’s strength and protect their young from harm.

They are Protecting Themselves Against a Predator

Group of cows in intensive livestock farm land

Cows are often stalked by predators like coyotes, which look for stragglers that are away from the herd.

Cows know that there is strength in numbers so they will huddle together with the calves safely in the middle. They will stand facing outwards, keeping their eyes on their enemies.

They are Protecting Themselves from You

Cows will often huddle together when they are being moved by ranchers.

Cows will naturally run toward the herd and stay close together, making them easier to move as a group.

If you try to sort out a single cow, it will instinctively run back to the huddled group to stay safe.

They are Wary in Unfamiliar Situations

Group of Cows watering in the river

If cows are penned together, especially somewhere new or unfamiliar, they will huddle together as a defense mechanism.

They will stay in a small, huddled group until they know it is safe to move about.

They are Trying to Deter Insects

Cows will often huddle together to ward off insects.

When temperatures are high and insects are rampant, cows will huddle close together. The lack of air flow from being so close together will often lessen the number of insects bothering them.

They are Investigating Something New

Group of cows grazing on a green meadow

Cows will huddle around a new, suspicious item that they come across. Cows will check it out and then eventually move on if it is not food or water or of some other benefit.

They will also huddle around dead animals, checking them out to see what is wrong with them.

Why Do Cows Stand in a Circle?

Cows will stand in a circle for different reasons. If they have been fed grain or hay on the ground, cows will group in a circle to eat it, so they all get their turn.

They will also stand in a circle when defending against a predator, but they will be facing outward, guarding any calves in the middle.

Why Do Cows Stand Together by the Fence?

Cows like to stand together by a fence because they are either waiting on food or waiting to find a way through.

They could be escaping from a predator or bad weather and the fence is as far as they can go.

If you regularly feed them close to a fence, cows will wait by that fence for you to arrive with their dinner.

Why Do Cows Huddle Together in Barns?

When cows are in barns, they often huddle together where they find the best air flow.

They may move in a group to different areas of the barn throughout the day, as the air flow changes.

Cows look through the fence on a farm

Why Do Cows Eat Together?

Cows eat together because they are herd animals, and they like to stay near each other.

They often graze close to each other in a constantly moving group.

When grain or hay is fed, they know there is only a certain amount, so they will come eat at the same time.

Cows do not willingly share or save food for others, so they eat hay and grain together in groups, sometimes pushing one another out of the way to get their turn.

Final Thoughts

Cows like to huddle together for several reasons, some of which we may never fully understand.

For the most part, however, cows huddle to preserve their lives in some way or to improve them, even if it is just for a short time.

Cows are herd animals, and they cannot escape their instinct to stay close together, especially when they are afraid.