We all know that almost all male mammals have primitive mammary glands and nipples, with just a few exceptions, such as male mice (do not have nipples), and male horses (lack nipples and mammary glands). So, how about cows? Do male cows have nipples? This post is going to answer that question along with some interesting facts.
Do male cows have nipples?
Like all mammals, including humans, male cows have nipples, but they do not serve the same purpose as those of a female cow. For female cows, nipples are paramount because they are involved in the feeding of the calves. Nipples are very sensitive and when their offspring begins to suck on them, the milk is released through tubular canals.
Do male cows produce milk?
Although male cows have nipples, they do not produce milk because they do not have udders and their mammary glands halt when their sex is defined. This is the reason why male cows are considered a redundancy to the dairy industry and will either be shot after birth or sold to be reared for veal or beef.
Why do male cows have nipples?
So, if male cows do not breastfeed and those nipples are pointless, why do they have nipples? The answer lies partly in the fetal development in the womb. It is in the genes of all mammals that decide that nipples will be developed before the sex of the fetus is determined. For males, the nipples do get developed, but it is not as fully developed as it is in females.
From the very early stage of development, embryos of both sexes have the same structures that can develop into either male or female reproductive organs. This means while in their mothers’ wombs, all cows develop the same characteristics. They do not have defining characteristics until they reach a certain developmental stage. At that point, testosterone in males increases and it halts the development of mammary glands.
So, later in the development of male cows, even as most of the mammary crest disappears, the cells that form primitive nipples remain.
Many theories explaining the reason why those nipples do not disappear in male cows, let’s take a look at the one that makes the most sense – the theory of evolution.
From an evolutionary view, some scientists believe that male nipples remain, not because they present any advantages for a male cow, but because they do no harm and there has not been a survival need for male cows to stop having nipples, so they still have them.
Ultimately, only female cows use theirs. Hence, if making nipples uses many resources, evolution would have found a way to make them disappear. This is the reason why we as humans have tail bones, although we do not have tails, evolution simply never felt any pressure to make it disappear. It also explains why male cows have nipples.
In accordance with the theory, we’d have to believe nipples were too costly, so nipple resources were diverted elsewhere.
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Where are the nipples on the male cows?
If you pay a closer look at their bellies, you can see that they are located at the same place as they would be on a cow, so near the scrotum. However, it is not very easy to see those nipples on a male cow because they do not have udders and their nipples are very small, just like some small bumps.
Do male cows have fewer nipples than females?
No, they do not. Both male and female cows have the same number of nipples. As we mentioned above, the nipples are developed before the sex of the fetus is determined, which means that the number is not influenced by sex.
Regarding the number of nipples, both male and female cows have 4 nipples. Some cows have an error, which means they have one or two extra nubs just like pimples, but they normally do not work.
Maybe most of us have never seen male cows’ nipples due to their tiny size. However, male cows do have nipples probably because nature hasn’t found a reason to eliminate them. If you have never noticed this before, next time when you have a chance to see a male cow in real life, you can check where their nipples are and how they look.