Does anyone have first-hand information about cows? Specifically, how smart is the average cow compared to other common barnyard animals?

examples: Sheep, goats, dogs, cats, turkeys, pigs, horses

This will help me with level progression plus related goal objects. No need for a dissertation, I'd just like these things to "ring true".

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I see two problems with this question: it's unclear how this knowledge is going to translate to game development in practice, and it's highly unlikely that anybody here will have first-hand experience of the subject domain. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 3:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty funny. \$\endgroup\$
    – tesselode
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 3:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is absolutely off topic because it has no explanation of how this could possibly fit into the realm of game development. Second, how exactly does one measure "smart", especially in animals? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 3:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't a game development question, it's a question in some field of animal studies. Make your cows as smart as you like. Plus as @JustinSkiles touched on, you can't measure "smart" in a straight line - animals are just good at different things. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 3:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NicolBolas It was a subtle way of getting that question closed too :) This question is a good example of why questions like that are off topic, because one day it's missile launchers and the next it's cows. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


If you were to ask Temple Grandin, she would tell you they're pretty smart. While cows are not as intelligent as pigs, there is evidence that they're a bit smarter than people give them credit. Watch some of Grandin's videos (or her movie) and you'll learn a lot about the mentality of cows. This should help you simulate them better.

Your cows should have a strong herd mentality. When left alone they should seek the group. They won't like going into dark places and they'll be able to perform simple path finding. They have no depth perception (or a very poor sense of it) so their attack abilities should miss often. This also affects their desire to go down steep ramps or stairs, so they'll likely avoid those situations.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You start doing a little animal intelligence research and find they're ALL smarter than pop culture generally holds. Real animal behavior is a gold mine of game ideas. Look at Tokyo Jungle. The subject is DEEP. \$\endgroup\$
    – willc2
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like that you keep an open mind about alternative ideas, this place could use a pinch of open-mindedness from time to time. \$\endgroup\$
    – AturSams
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 8:11

Humans are very self-centered creatures. Any information you will find about cow intelligence is probably biased by how much is the animal is willing to cooperate and respond to orders from humans or interact with humans in a way that is pleasing to them(see cats).

I have not had much interaction with cows in my life to judge their intelligence from a first hand perspective. I personally like dogs, I think we all agree they take the cake.

I do have a very interesting article about horse intelligence here:

The horse was able to judge human response like in a poker game and make decisions based on the slightest nuances in body language and facial expressions and answer math questions based on that even though the horse evidently did not understand math. The only other animal that has proven such insight under stressful situations is a dog. That is why when a dog is trained to find drugs in luggage, none of the people allowed in the room know in which suitcase the drugs are. If we are in the subject of dog intelligence and abillities, did you know dogs can detect cancer by smell with nearly 99% accuracy?





So I think horses are exceptional creatures in their ability to figure out human emotions and they must have very high Emotional Quotient. I hope that helps.


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