Steer clear of this mistake

Published Apr 19, 2017 at 4:00pm

As the poet Ogden Nash reminds us, “The cow is of the bovine ilk. One end is moo, the other milk.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recalled this wisdom by the heartening news this week that six bovines who led St. Louis police on a merry chase through a north St. Louis neighborhood on March 30 had been promised homes at an animal shelter in Tennessee. The animals escaped from a packinghouse and quickly became a Twitter sensation, where it became evident that St. Louisans are a long way from the farm.

“Cows,” the St. Louis police Twitter account called them, which would mean they are mature females of the bovine ilk. No, said the packinghouse, they were heifers, which indicates immature females who had not yet calved.

Photos identifying them as heifers were posted, despite ample anatomical evidence that they were male. Well, yes. It was finally determined that the animals were steers, castrated males raised for the market because one bull can service dozens, if not hundreds of cows, and having too many bulls around is not safe. The paper noted that this is true about males of other species, too.