Got Milk: The Hero of Time’s Cow Encounters

a While We Wait article by jwalraven


To help pass the time until Spirit Tracks comes out on Monday, let us look back at the first 3-D games for a bit. To be more precise than that, let us look at the ones that helped Link “moove” along in his journey.

Cows have seen their “hay” day in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Without them, side quests would be incomplete, and Link would be without another means to heal his hearts. So what is so special about these perceived mundane farm animals? Read on to find out how these bovines defy normal physics (like most any other video game element), break language barriers, and fulfill silly stereotypes.

Bovine Background

A Real Cow Real Cow

Cow Official Art

Game Sprite
Game Sprite

These cows with their big bodies, huge heads, and over-sized udders are based on the Holstein-Friesian (or your typical black and white) dairy cows. Though the official art and actual game sprite are different, the similarities can be seen as compared to an actual cow. Both have white color bases with dark gray to black spots/blotches. Both have small horns, floppy ears, pink colored udders, and lighter snout areas as well.

However, the official art is based on the actual proportions of a Holstein-Friesian cow while the game sprite is an exaggeration as you can see in the pictures to the left. The hooves are teeny tiny, the udder is the size of the underbelly instead of hanging around the back legs, and the eyes are constantly closed, just to name a few differences.

When compared to a real cow, the game sprite does emulate some typical behaviors. For one, the cow moos. This trait is quite helpful when trying to find them in the surrounding area or underground (more on that later). They are also depicted constantly chewing which parallels real cows chewing their cud.

All the cows encounters Link are, of course, all female since no bulls are ever seen. Think of the awkward situations Link would find himself in if he played his ocarina to a bull…better yet, let’s not. Another difference between real cows and the game cows is Link is able to understand when the cows talk to him. After playing Epona’s Song to them, the cows are able to speak to Link conveying their happy emotions from the song and offering up their goods. So what do these cows of Hyrule and Termina have to offer?

Hyrule’s Heifers

Moooooooooo! What a nice song… It reminds me of the pasture… That song makes me feel so good, I can produce a lot of milk! Have some of my refreshing and nutritious milk!“—OoT Cows after playing Epona’s Song.

The Hero of Time most likely first encountered these cows at Lon Lon Ranch. In the barn, he found 2 cows that seemed to be in a perfectly normal location. However while exploring the silo at the backside of the Ranch, Link discovered 2 cows living in there. With the only known access to the silo being a small wooden door, how did they get there? Considering there is a large cart, a couple of barrels, and few milk crates, one could assume the cows got there the same way that these other things did (which is unknown). It is highly improbable that the cows could squeeze though the door.

When breaking into, I mean visiting, Impa’s house in Kakariko Village, Link found a cow inside. Behind the caged cow was a large hole in the wall. While out investigating how to get the Heart Piece the cow shared a cell with, Link discovered the hole on the outside wall was only big enough for him to fit through. So how did the cow get into Impa’s house? Probably through the use of Impa’s knowledge of Sheikah magic.

An odd “moo” was heard while young Link started to scale the Death Mountain Trail. While bombing boulders out of the way, Link found a hole. Dropping down into the hole, he found a cow. How she got up the mountain and down into a hole big enough for a small man to fall into is unknown, but Link appreciated her availability after being battered by flaming boulders to help heal his hearts.

UnderwaterCowjabujabu25Shoot me please!

"Shoot me please!"---Cows Inside Jabu-Jabu

On the quest of saving Princess Ruto and the Zora’s Sapphire, Link came across cows sticking out of the walls of Lord Jabu-Jabu (Master Quest only). Link counted around 15 cows throughout Jabu-Jabu’s belly. These cows served as switches to open doors, dropped items, and make treasure chests appear when hit with Deku nuts, bombs, or the boomerang. Some cows would have their heads stick out, some half of their bodies, and some were completely fine underwater! Not only that, they are still able to provide milk to Link when he plays his ocarina for them. How do these cows manage to survive as random tumors? Must be the divinity of Lord Jabu-Jabu, according to the Zoras.

Link encounters another cow in a hole near the entrance to Gerudo Valley. In the hole, the cow was munching on a shrub behind a Skulltula web. Again, we have no idea how she got there, but we can assume it was before the Skulltullas. While trying to explore Gerudo Valley and being rejected, Link grabbed a Cucco and floated down to a patch of farmland under the bridge. It can be assumed that with the architecture the Gerudos have, they were able to lower that cow down with some ropes, but that is only speculation.


Link's very own pet cow.

After adult Link saved Lon Lon Ranch, Malon challenged him to beat her time on an obstacle course. Link won easily and was told his prize was delivered to his tree house in Kokiri Forest. When Link checked back at home, he found a cow in his tree house. Perhaps the Kokiri helped get the cow up in the tree and through the doorway. If not, how did Malon, Talon, and Ingo do it?

So there is a little bit of information concerning the cows the Hero of Time encountered in Hyrule. What about the ones he met in Termina?

Bos Taurus of Termina

Moo! Nice moooosic. It reminds me of the pasture. That song just makes me want to let go and put out a lot of milk! I’ll give some to you. Milk will make you very healthy.“—MM Cows after playing Epona’s Song.

The cows Link encounters in Termina are very similar to the ones found in Hyrule. One of the main differences is that these cows will giggle when they talk to Link after playing Epona’s Song. Though there aren’t as many cows here as found in Hyrule, they play a bigger role in side quests.

Them be taking my cow!

Them be taking my cow!

I’m sure many of you have heard of a story where a farmer/rancher lost some cows to alien abductions. Romani Ranch is no exception. If Link doesn’t help Romani fight off Them (the alien ghost things), then the cows will be taken away again like in years past. Knowing how many cows live a Romani Ranch is also helpful when completing a Keaton Quiz. These 3 Romani Ranch cows are special in the fact that they can produce Chateau Romani, a special milk that can keep Link’s magic meter going indefinitely. But these cows cannot give any to Link when he plays his ocarina. He can only get it at the Milk Bar, Latte, in Clock Town or as a gift for completing certain side quests.

Did you know milk has calcium?

Did you know milk has calcium?

An essential cow needed in Link’s quest for the Mirror Shield is found beneath the well in Ikana Canyon. How she is able to get down there and live comfortably with many Gibdos living in the well is a mystery, but she is there to help provide Link with milk to a Gibdo demanding to “Leeeaave me something rich in calcium!

Elsewhere in Termina, there are very few cows living underground. In the giant log to the Southern Swamp from Clock Town is a secret grotto with 2 cows living in it. Again, how these large cows are able to fit into these small holes, nobody knows but they continue to happily munch away at the many shrubs found in the grotto.

For Members only. Members only.

*Bobble, bobble, bobble.**Bobble.*

Termina’s cows have also made their way into merchandise. All across the buildings of Clock Town, Link could find a bobble head cow statue that would bobble whenever he rolled into the nearby wall/desk/ect. or when the rumbling of an earthquake occurred. If Link is quizzed by a Keaton, he should answer 10 since that is the number present in Clock Town. Another piece of cow merchandise was the Romani Mask. This cow head mask served as a proof of membership to Clock Town’s Milk Bar, Latte, and had to be worn in order to gain access. The mask was a thank you gift from Cremia for Link protecting her shipment to the Milk Bar.

So there you have it for the cows of Termina. They live in holes, under wells, and can be abducted by unknown beings. And unlike their Hyrule counterparts, have merchandise based on them.

Concluding on Cows

Even though cows have been featured The Minish Cap as well, the cows just were not as random as they were in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. These cows have found their way into tight fitting spaces, improbable places, and a place in Link’s hearts. I hope to see the cows make a comeback in future Zelda games and play a big part in side quests again. Until next time, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about the prominent Legend of Zelda cows.