From Tolkien Gateway

Back to pasture, back to mead,
Where the kine and oxen feed!

Cows, also known by the archaic plural Kine and occasionally as Oxen, were pasture animals in Middle-earth.


Cows were domesticated for farm use in most of Middle-earth. They produced milk, which was used as a beverage in Gondor,[2] and the Shire.[3] Being generally stronger than horses, cows also pulled the heavier wagons and wains in Middle-earth.[4]

Yet still, there were undomesticated oxen. The wild-oxen of the East were, according to legend, descended from the Kine of Araw, the herd of Oromë.[5] Vorondil the Hunter hunted them in the far fields of Rhûn, and of their horns he made the Great Horn of Gondor, which served as an heirloom to the House of Stewards until its destruction.[4]


Cows are a major source of food even in today's world. Their use as farm animals seems little more than logical. J.R.R. Tolkien spent most of his life in Oxford, and cows would also play a role in other stories, such as Farmer Giles of Ham, where the Giant steps on Farmer Giles' favourite cow, Galathea.[6]

The white oxen of Rhûn were likened by Tolkien to an aurochs[7], a bovine species common in the ancient and medieval world until its extinction.


An "elvish" word for "bull" is mundo.[8] The Root MBUD, which lists among its derivatives a Quenya word mundo meaning "snout, nose, cape",[9] could perhaps be related to mundo.

In Qenya, the word for "ox" is yakko or yako, "cow" is yaksi or yakse. In Gnomish, "milch cow" is gach, "cow" is gacha, and "a yoke ox - bullock" is gagron. Other Gnomish names are mûs or mui ("cow"); muir ("heifer"); ("ox"), muin ("kine, cattle"); and mugli ("calf").[10][11]

In Tolkien's juvenile language Nevbosh, the word for cow is woc, which is both the reverse of cow, and an alteration of the French word vache.[12]

Portrayal in adaptations

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

A cow can be seen being milked by a Hobbit. Another Hobbit is also seen ploughing a field with a plough pulled by two oxen.[13]

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Bilbo Baggins passes by a cow while he jumps over a fence, during his hurried running from Bag End through Hobbiton, to catch up with Gandalf and the dwarves of Thorin's company. [14]

See also