All About the Ox

It’s a common saying to remark that a person is as strong as an ox, but what does this mean?

The powerful strength of oxen is unparalleled to most other animals.

What You Should Know

An ox is a domesticated form of mammal with horns. It once traveled in large herds across Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. In many of these areas, it has since disappeared completely. Australia and South America have no wild ox.

Oxen are herbivores. They only eat plants. They will also consume grains found on farms they work on.

What Sound Do They Make?

The ox commonly makes a low bellowing sound. It almost sounds like a cow, in many ways.

Group Characteristics

Because the ox is a castrated adult male cattle breed, it cannot reproduce on its own. The ox is castrated to make it a more powerful worker and easier to control. Adult male cattle that aren’t castrated are considered bulls. The bull and cows mate to create more cattle. Then, the ox is chosen from that litter to continue handling the workload.

The musk ox is a different species that can reproduce. These animals live in the wild and birth single calves after a nine-month gestation period.

How Many are There?

The ox is a domesticated animal that isn’t in danger of extinction. Even the musk ox, is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. The number of mature animals is considered to be between 133,914 and 136,914. The major threats to these wild animals include hunting, trapping, climate change, and severe weather.

Pop Culture

The ox is not a popular character in movies or TV. It can be found in older films depicting farm life before modern gadgets existed.

The ox is most known as part of the Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Ox is the second of all zodiac animals. In one myth, the Jade Emperor claimed the order was due to how the guests arrived at the party. The Ox was going to be first, but the Rat asked for a ride. When they arrive, the Rat jumped off and landed ahead of the Ox, making it the second animal to the party. The Chinese continue to value the ox because of its role in agriculture. It’s also considered to be a hardworking and honest animal.

Interesting Facts

The cow and the ox are very different members of the Bovinae subfamily. While they are all born the same, the way they are trained and treated molds them into the creatures they become. There aren’t a lot of differences between the two, but humans can differentiate once everyone knows what to look for.

Typically, the ox is more intelligent than a standard cow. That’s because the ox undergoes more training. It’s taught to respond appropriately to the handler’s commands. It is trained with whip prodding, ropes or through sound commands.

The other major difference is strength. Because of all the training, the ox becomes strong and capable. It has a more muscular, massive and sturdy build than the cow. You won’t find the same level of muscles on a cow that you do with the oxen. This is needed, primarily when the ox is tasked with heavy-duty hauling or lifting jobs.