Cattle are born with baby teeth that fall out and are replaced with the adult set of teeth.
This begins between one and two years old. By five years old the full set of adult teeth will be in. We can tell a cows age by looking at her teeth. From a very young animal with baby teeth, to a young cow with some adult teeth grown in. And finally an old cow, often called smooth mouth, as teeth are shortened and lost with wear.
Cattle do not generally need their teeth floated on a regular bases like horses do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need their teeth checked. As cows lose teeth, from age or injury, the tooth below will keep growing. Uneven wear on teeth from any other cause will result in the same issue. The tooth without a matched pair can grow long and sharp making chewing painful and difficult.
Often when an older cow is losing condition it is because she has tooth issues. Cattle teeth can be floated, filed down by a veterinarian to remove sharp edges.
Teeth can also cause trouble in younger cattle. The timing of baby teeth falling out coincides with the highest nutrient requirements a young cow will have. In the two year old year, a heifer coming up to their second calf is still growing, recovering from having her first calf, while raising that first calf, and carrying a second calf.
Having trouble chewing during this time makes it hard to get enough from their feed to rebreed. This problem can often result in open cows that second breeding.
While regular floating isn’t needed like it is in horses. It is important to keep an eye on teeth to make sure there aren’t any major problems that will affect a cow’s health.
Check out the video on cow teeth on our youtube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiWa79fTzqQ