In the past, cattle were often used as draft and pack animals, but today they are mainly used for the production of milk and Meat and as breeding animals. Most of them have a specific useful life, after which they are slaughtered.
But how long could beef cattle live if they are not slaughtered? And how old could dairy cows get if they don’t die prematurely from being wasted from intensive milk production and constant calving? There is little data on how old cattle that have been bred extremely for high performance can get. With few exceptions, they are never kept to their natural deaths.
The representation of the maximum life expectancy is therefore mostly about experiences with farm animals of different breeds, which are kept on sanctuaries or living quarters until they die due to their age. So it is known that some cattle the age of 20 years achieved. The cow «Milla» in the northern German «Kuhaltersheim» Hof Butenland celebrated her 25th birthday in 2016. In Ireland, a cow is said to have reached the biblical age of 48 years.
In the following graph we compare the natural life expectancy of cattle with their lifespan in intensive livestock farming:
The life expectancy of cattle kept as livestock looks sad: Having the longest useful life Dairy cows – and it’s not even six years. The life expectancy of breeding bulls is even lower (approx three years) and beef cattle (meager two years). A young animal slaughtered for veal is not allowed to live even a year. The lifespan of a fattening calf is only eight months.