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Curiosities about cows

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
When doing a Camino in Galicia is usual seeing herds of cows driven by a shepherd and a dog. Here some curiosities about them.
- They always walk in order of age. The first position is for the oldest that receives the orders from the shepherd. She understands in Galician: right, left, up, down, stop, go, slower, faster. She knows all possible destinations on a particular route.
- A cow recognises another adult daughter in the herd but doesn't show any particular care about her.
- A Rubia Galega cow is never dangerous for an adult pilgrim with a pole/stick but some few of them could be for little children. In case of problem shout "go", she'll understand "ho" (stop).
- When driving a herd the most complicated situation, appart from cars, is if another herd is coming in the opposite direction because the cows could start a fight.
- A cow shows that is in heat mounting another cow. Then the owner will call the vet for artifitial insemination.
- They have names usually related to their appearance like Gallarda, Marela, Moura, Roxa, Toura, etc. Of course, the dog identifies the cow by its name and in case the cow doesn't obey an order it will act.
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
Interesting! Thank you!
 

Lexicos

Jim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
2017
Camino Portuguese 2019
My Grandfather had cows all his life. I took them out to graze one time and they immediately went into someone’s cornfield and started eating the ripening crop. I ran home to tell Grandad and he came running and rounded them up with shouts and curses and a long stick. I never took them out again. My Grandad loved to dance and so do I. He’s gone now. So are the cows. My village is empty of cows and people except for the few old people left. I noticed the same thing in Spain. It’s sad. So I’m glad to see that someone ....you ... knows about cows!
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
How do you know? :)
I was a shepherd of Rubia Galega till I was 15.
50 years ago all were "corredoiras" narrow dirt tracks for carts and the situation of herds in opposite directions were quite common.
So, imagine the two shepherds in the middle traying to avoid the fight and the possibility of a cow becoming blind of an eye.
I drove the cows in summer afternoons to a hilly area where I sat on a rock called Pena Ferreira. From there I could see west the rias of Ferrol and Coruña 40 kms far and east part of the area of Camino del Norte.
Then after a beautiful sunset gather the cows again with the help of the dog and back home.
Sometimes there were also other boys and girls with their herds.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
My Grandfather had cows all his life. I took them out to graze one time and they immediately went into someone’s cornfield and started eating the ripening crop. I ran home to tell Grandad and he came running and rounded them up with shouts and curses and a long stick. I never took them out again. My Grandad loved to dance and so do I. He’s gone now. So are the cows. My village is empty of cows and people except for the few old people left. I noticed the same thing in Spain. It’s sad. So I’m glad to see that someone ....you ... knows about cows!
Yes. When I had to avoid a cow to eat the neighbor's corn was the worse. But a good (and young) dog and some curses helped a lot. I am glad that you know about cows too.
 

Mera

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
When doing a Camino in Galicia is usual seeing herds of cows driven by a shepherd and a dog. Here some curiosities about them.
- They always walk in order of age. The first position is for the oldest that receives the orders from the shepherd. She understands in Galician: right, left, up, down, stop, go, slower, faster. She knows all possible destinations on a particular route.
- A cow recognises another adult daughter in the herd but doesn't show any particular care about her.
- A Rubia Galega cow is never dangerous for an adult pilgrim with a pole/stick but some few of them could be for little children. In case of problem shout "go", she'll understand "ho" (stop).
- When driving a herd the most complicated situation, appart from cars, is if another herd is coming in the opposite direction because the cows could start a fight.
- A cow shows that is in heat mounting another cow. Then the owner will call the vet for artifitial insemination.
- They have names usually related to their appearance like Gallarda, Marela, Moura, Roxa, Toura, etc. Of course, the dog identifies the cow by its name and in case the cow doesn't obey an order it will act.
How interesting! Thank you. I encountered them everyday and used to talked to them. They were very curious about me and often came by to see what I was doing. I didn't eat meats during the Camino as I felt like they were my friends. Instead I ate lots of sea foods as I didn't feel as much related to sea creatures. But the friendship didn't last. not long after I returned home and until recently, I did eat steaks again. However, after the corona outbreak, knowing that people work in very dangerous conditions to produce meat products, I stopped eating all meat products.
 

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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Ok, the blonde ones are Rubia Galega. Some of them have cut horns. The others are Frisian (milky). I don't know very much about them.
 

Kaleo

Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Camino(s) past & future
Planned for 2018
- They always walk in order of age. The first position is for the oldest that receives the orders from the shepherd. She understands in Galician: right, left, up, down, stop, go, slower, faster. She knows all possible destinations on a particular route.
- A cow recognises another adult daughter in the herd but doesn't show any particular care about her.
- They have names usually related to their appearance like Gallarda, Marela, Moura, Roxa, Toura, etc. Of course, the dog identifies the cow by its name and in case the cow doesn't obey an order it will act.
This is very interesting about cows lining up in order of age and that the dog identifies cows by name! Did you use Pyrenean Mountain dogs (Patou) to protect the cows? Did you ever use Pyrenean Shepherds to herd the cows?
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
This is very interesting about cows lining up in order of age and that the dog identifies cows by name! Did you use Pyrenean Mountain dogs (Patou) to protect the cows? Did you ever use Pyrenean Shepherds to herd the cows?
The shepherd dogs in rural Galicia where almost all "Can de Palleiro" breed.at that time.
I especially remember one mixed called "Manchego" that I think had a bit of hunting dog. He was extraordinary clever and could understand long phrases.
 

Kaleo

Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Camino(s) past & future
Planned for 2018
The shepherd dogs in rural Galicia where almost all "Can de Palleiro" breed.at that time.
I especially remember one mixed called "Manchego" that I think had a bit of hunting dog. He was extraordinary clever and could understand long phrases.
Thank you! I had not heard of that breed. This article says it is ancient and rare. https://www.petguide.com/breeds/dog/can-de-palleiro/ The photo at the top of that page shows eyes that are similar to a Pyr or Anatolian Shepherd with the black eyeliner. Very beautiful! Interesting to me that the breed is described as "a strong and independent breed, though not inherently stubborn or strong-willed."
 

Mera

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
This is very interesting about cows lining up in order of age and that the dog identifies cows by name! Did you use Pyrenean Mountain dogs (Patou) to protect the cows? Did you ever use Pyrenean Shepherds to herd the cows?
Brings back so many things.
 

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Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés; Português Central; Português Interior; Primitivo; Português da Costa; Invierno
The others are Frisian (milky)
These look like Holsteins, or Holstein-Friesian crossbreeds. True pure-bred Friesians tend to be found in northwestern Europe (the Netherlands, northern France, Britain and Ireland). But they're very close cousins.

The temperament of cows is closely related to their breeds. The ones I've encountered in Galicia and Asturias tend to be very placid, laid-back and easy-to-get-along-with animals. Other breeds can be more like the bovine equivalent of Rottweiler dogs. The large, stocky Charolais cow found in much of France used to have an appalling reputation for aggressiveness; over the last few decades, selective breeding has reduced this tendency, though I still wouldn't turn my back on one. Much the same is true of Limousins. Shorthorns and Herefords, despite their truculent appearance, are gentle creatures on the whole. And Friesians can be, if anything, too docile for their own good. A cow needs to be able to stand up for herself against getting pushed around by one of her sisters, to obtain her fair share of grazing space and water. Some Friesians would almost benefit from a short course in assertiveness training.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
These look like Holsteins, or Holstein-Friesian crossbreeds. True pure-bred Friesians tend to be found in northwestern Europe (the Netherlands, northern France, Britain and Ireland). But they're very close cousins.

The temperament of cows is closely related to their breeds. The ones I've encountered in Galicia and Asturias tend to be very placid, laid-back and easy-to-get-along-with animals. Other breeds can be more like the bovine equivalent of Rottweiler dogs. The large, stocky Charolais cow found in much of France used to have an appalling reputation for aggressiveness; over the last few decades, selective breeding has reduced this tendency, though I still wouldn't turn my back on one. Much the same is true of Limousins. Shorthorns and Herefords, despite their truculent appearance, are gentle creatures on the whole. And Friesians can be, if anything, too docile for their own good. A cow needs to be able to stand up for herself against getting pushed around by one of her sisters, to obtain her fair share of grazing space and water. Some Friesians would almost benefit from a short course in assertiveness training.
Now at my homeparish everything is Friesian. There is only one farm left with Rubia. This has increased a lot the water pollution and I don' t drink from the sources I used to anymore. In general, pilgrims shoudn' t drink water in Spain from sources near meadows.
Limousins and Charolais are replacing local meat breeds in Spain because it seems that they have more return. In Galicia they are not included in the designation of origin "ternera de Galicia" and that slows their expansion.
I often see them when walking Sierra de Madrid. Even the bulls are very tame. Some time ago an English pilgrim told here that doing Cercedilla- La Granja on Camino de Madrid took a siesta after lunch and was awakened by the breathing of a bull ( Limousin I think) that was looking at him from 2 mts.
 

Mera

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
Yes, indeed, I find cows that I had encountered in Spain being very friendly. I believe they are also very intelligent. In certain countries, they let the cows go out and graze on their own. They all come home in the evening on their own. While traveling India, I often encountered “begging cows” in the city. They just walk with traffic to visit stores. Since cows are considered sacred in India, no one honks at them. Imagine what would happen if it happened in the U.S.

Locals said that those cows do “rounds” every morning to get food. Storekeepers give them scraps of whatever they sell; bread, vegetables, fruits etc. so cows won’t block the entrance and move on to the next store. They only visit each store once a day, being pretty fair I think. Those cows trained storekeepers well!
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles 2016 Camino Portuguese 2017 Considering Invierno late (2020) In lieu of VdlP (2020)
This is very interesting about cows lining up in order of age and that the dog identifies cows by name! Did you use Pyrenean Mountain dogs (Patou) to protect the cows? Did you ever use Pyrenean Shepherds to herd the cows?
There was a long running thread with a man and one or two donkeys, two dogs and a cat who rode on the donkey. One of his dogs was a mastiff (Cantabrian??). These dogs were specifically bred to bond with a herd of cows and protect them from Wolves.
Normally a herd of cows will see a dog as a predator and form a defensive line between the calves and the dogs. If a person is leading a dog on a lead and that person is seeming to approach the herd will react to drive off the dog and will also attack the human. This has led to a few deaths and serious injuries in the UK.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPP-Fisterra (2014_18). Burgos-Astorga (2019). Sarria-Santiago (Jan 2020). CF 2020
Ok, the blonde ones are Rubia Galega. Some of them have cut horns. The others are Frisian (milky). I don't know very much about them.
Friesians are very common where I live in the west of Ireland and are used solely for milk, not meat. The cheese and yogurt is divine! These lovely ladies greet me on my daily walks and love how they wear their hearts on their foreheads😍

94627407-5FBB-4DF2-8062-A8DD5A448399.jpeg
 

SMBHNL

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: 2016, 2017. CP: April 2018
One of the best days of walking I ever had was a day I walked with an international livestock trader from South America. He taught me so much about cattle-from breeding to shipping. The most interesting thing I learned is that when being shipped by boat, cattle don't lean counter to the roll of the boat; they continue to stand straight up. Cattle boats have sunk because of that.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Friesians are very common where I live in the west of Ireland and are used solely for milk, not meat. The cheese and yogurt is divine! These lovely ladies greet me on my daily walks and love how they wear their hearts on their foreheads😍

View attachment 76457
Nice photo!
Friesians have affected in a certain way the Camino itself because their big number has changed the landscape in many parts of Galicia.
In the1980's and before there were much more improductive areas of colourful gorse and heather and small fields of wheat, rye and oats. Now appart from trees in northern Galicia there are almost only impersonal prairies and corn fields for the cows. The landscape is less diverse.
Their manure used to fertilize the prairies pollute the waters. Sources and fountains are not safe for drinking water.
 
Last edited:

Sweething

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2021)
I was a shepherd of Rubia Galega till I was 15.
50 years ago all were "corredoiras" narrow dirt tracks for carts and the situation of herds in opposite directions were quite common.
So, imagine the two shepherds in the middle traying to avoid the fight and the possibility of a cow becoming blind of an eye.
I drove the cows in summer afternoons to a hilly area where I sat on a rock called Pena Ferreira. From there I could see west the rias of Ferrol and Coruña 40 kms far and east part of the area of Camino del Norte.
Then after a beautiful sunset gather the cows again with the help of the dog and back home.
Sometimes there were also other boys and girls with their herds.
What a wonderful tale!
 


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