I am exploring alternative domestic animals instead cows, while still using a cow-like animal. The question I ask is in the title, and is pretty self explanatory

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    $\begingroup$ Where is your fiction set? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ Ideally questions (and answers) on SE are supposed to contain enough stand-alone information to let someone answer them without external reference. Adding a link to e.g. a Wikipedia page on these creatures and a brief summary of what they were and what properties they have that you want/need for your story/setting is the kind of thing that would improve your question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Are you looking for currently domesticated animals? If so, is it the size, functionality, horns, etc. you want to be like cows? Sheep or goats, for example, give meat, milk (including sheep, BTW) are herd animals and such but aren't big (or horned for sheep). Wool is a bonus. Yaks are milked, big, horned, and pack animals. Expand the question. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ Generally speaking it's a good idea to hold off awarding the Green Checkmark for a couple days. That way you've a better chance to see more answers. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ There is no animal called the **auroch. There is an animal called the aurochs, with a final s. The English word is a borrowing from German Auerochse. (The most common plural is aurochs, but aurochses and aurochsen are also seen occasionnally.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 0:24

2 Answers 2


Wisent (Bison bonasus) are probably the closest in terms of niche to the aurochsen, given their ranges overlap significant. Wisent are actually thought to be a hybrid between steppe bison (Bison priscus) and aurochen.

Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalus) are not descended from aurochsen, and in a world where they were never domesticated it's possible they could have been traded around the world and filled the same economic niche. Domestic water buffalo were known as far west as Italy during the time of Carl von Linne, and supposedly wild water buffalo were present in Italy a long time ago as well.

American bison (Bison bison) are an option for North America, but are a bit iffy due to their unpredictability. Some have said that aurochsen are highly aggressive, though it's hard to say because we have no living wild aurochsen to gauge their behavior. The Heck cattle that are supposedly aurochsen-like are hyper-aggressive, but this was bred into them on purpose by the Heck brothers to recreate an aurochs in-line with the almost Conan the Barbarian-esque view of primeval Europe the Nazi party had.

Probably the best animal if you want something to replace the aurochsen but don't want to use any animal used as a domesticated species today is the giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus). Eland are probably one of the most domesticatable ungulate species out there that never was, and are very similar in temperament and social structure to modern cows (meaning the same husbandry techniques that work on cows will mostly work on eland). There has been some success with semi-domestication of the eland in captivity, and people have actually managed to milk them to some degree. It hasn't progressed much further mostly because there isn't much reward to putting that much effort into domesticating another large ungulate, though there are possibilities like eland being immune to some diseases that effect cattle and are more water-efficient than cattle.

  • $\begingroup$ The Eland sounds like a really interesting animal. I want these to have been domesticated by more cultures. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 5:46




Takins are the largest members of the Caprinae subfamily containing sheep and goats. Like giant goats (and aurochs) they graze and browse. Females average 250-300 kg and males are heavier. Takins have not been domesticated but they seem pretty chill and are friendly with zookeepers. We used to watch this guy at the San Diego zoo. They will beg food and get fat if given a chance.

Many different types of sheep and goat have been domesticated and used for fiber, meat and milk and it seems like takins would be suitable for the same.

Plus takins are awesome and super cute.


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