Can Cows See in The Dark?

Most animal species have some form of superior vision that allows them to see in the dark. Similarly, cows can see in the dark as well. This allows them to efficiently manoeuvre and survive in varied environments. Experts in livestock farming point out that it is important for farmers to understand all aspects of livestock including their vision so as to easily understand animal behaviour. In addition, having some understanding on how cows perceive the world allows farmers to tailor make an agricultural management system that is suitable for them. Resultantly, performance is most likely to increase; this directly translates towards productivity and profitability hence the success of the overall agricultural venture.

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Night Vision

A large number of animals have what is known as the tapetum lucidum which provides them with night vision. The tapetum lucidum is basically a light reflecting surface. This layer is situated in the back of the eye ball, just below the back of the retina; it is consistent to the level of the choroid. The tapetum lucidum   plays a crucial role in night vision by reflecting light back through the retina, a layer of light sensitive cells at the back of the eye. While humans do not have this layer, most animals do including bovines and so cows can see in the dark.  In simpler terms, the tapetum lucidum allows light to penetrate the eyeball and reflect within the eyes thereby intensifying lower light levels. It is this condition that helps cows to identify food and move during the night. As clearly articulated, cows can see in the dark hence their ability to manoeuvre when there is no other source of light available.

The vision of cows is said to be the main sense that offers approximately half of the sensory information received from their surroundings. As such, cows can see in dark as a means to survive. Their panoramic vision allows them to see in all directions without necessarily moving. This of the essence in their survival as they are able to see predators even during the night time. Despite the fact that cows can see in the dark, they are unable to distinguish the exact distance. Furthermore, due to the blind spot at the back of their heads, cows get spooked quite easily and their natural instinct is to kick. Care should therefore be practised when handling bovines. An understanding of their perspective allows for proper handling techniques so that humans are not harmed.

Threats to Vision

Similar to humans and other animal species, cows can see in the dark or even at all if only their eyes are safe from infection. As a matter of fact, eye infection can be detrimental to cows since they are largely dependent on vision for sensory information. Eye infection can result in partial or total blindness, depending on its severity. This exposes livestock to attack by predators; their feeding structure is also affected which in turn weakens the immune system. Resultantly, a secondary infection may develop. Cows often suffer from what is known as pinkeye or conjunctivitis. It manifests with tears and infected cows tend to have their eyes partially closed. The disease is spread by flies thus it is common. It is therefore advisable to vaccinate livestock timeously. Moreover, cows are also known to develop hypersensitivity to sunlight. This condition is known as photosensitization and is caused by different plants or ingested drugs.

Can Cows See In Colour?

Although cows can see in the dark and so are considered to have superior night vision, their ability to identify colour is quite limited. As a matter of fact, cows are said to have only two colour receptors. A consequence of this is the limited ability to identify between various colours. The capability of cows to distinguish between various colours depends on the wavelength. Research studies on the subject matter reveal that while colour discrimination can be easily determined in humans, it is not as easy for animals. Cows basically find it difficult to distinguish two specific wavelengths as separate entities hence negatively affecting their ability to identify between various colours. As such, cows can distinguish all colours with grey back ground but find it difficult to identify colours such as blue. Studies indicate that cows are able to discriminate colours such as red, orange and yellow among others. Colours with a shorter wavelength including grey and blue are difficult to distinguish. To add on, despite the fact that cows can see in the dark, they are known to be quite sensitive to sharp contrast. This is said to make them more alert to shadows. In fact, shadows might appear as holes from the ground and so cows tend to avoid places with poor lighting. This basically means that when providing cattle with feedstuff and water among other farming implements, farmers should make sure to avail them in areas where they can be easily identified by livestock.


Do Cows See Things Bigger?

As already established, cows perceive the world in a different manner to humans and other animal species. Their pupils are horizontal and they are not able to see up or down. Nonetheless, since they have eyes on the sides of their heads, cows can see things in a broader picture. An important point to be aware of is that even though cows can see in the in the dark, they have weak eyes muscles that prevent them from focusing on objects. According to research, their vertical view is approximately 60 degreed hence the reason behind their poor ability to focus on objects, particularly up or down. They are therefore easily distracted and take a prolonged amount of time to process imagery. To add on, cows are said to have a panoramic vision with an excess of 300 degrees. This generally means that they have unlimited vision. They only have blind spots directly in the back of their heads and so can see everything but things directly behind them. As such, cows can see in dark and have a broader view of things giving them a slightly superior vision in comparison to other animal species.