Humans are ingenious and imaginative animals. We frequently assume that anything is doable when we play our cards right. No wonder there are a lot of folks who believe that cow tipping is a natural phenomenon.

They obviously haven’t factored in the complexity of attempting to ram over a four-legged mammal, which is unbelievably good at swimming, with ten times the human weight.

Cow tipping
Cow tipping | Image Credit – Flickr

The approach of creeping up on an unprepared, standing cow and tipping it over for enjoyment is known as cow tipping or cow pushing. The act of cow tipping is widely regarded as an urban legend.

According to specific versions of the urban tale, the cow cannot get up. The attraction of this story stems from the perception that cows are sluggish and heavy, and therefore tipping them over might need only a tiny amount of thrust.

Simply ask around! Cow-tipping is something that everyone speaks about. However, it’s worth noting that only a very few people will say to have actually ever tipped a cow, and that too when drunk!

For the time being, let’s ignore the moral considerations regarding bothering helpless napping animals and find out if there is any reality in these claims, shall we?

How did it all start?

You have probably heard of cow-tipping, the alleged activity of idle, cheeky drunken louts in rural areas, even if you didn’t grow up on a farm. In specific locations, cow tipping is deemed a teenage badge of honor. Cow tipping, as a notion, stretches back to the times before the internet, when there wasn’t much to do.

The common perception of cow tipping is that on a regular schedule in country areas of America and other countries, young guys – generally intoxicated, go out to farms, select a dozing standing-up cow, and then deliver it a quick hard nudge, causing the cow to collapse over helplessly. And everyone, but the poor animal, is having a fantastic time.

Fact check: Reality or a myth?

Researchers have actually looked into the theory and come up with some concrete data showing that cow-tipping “had no grounds to verify.” If you live in the countryside, there are three things you promptly discover: Livestock, for starters, do not slumber standing up.

Second, cows are completely capable of getting up while they are lying flat on their backsides. Third, an upright cow can’t be knocked down by anything smaller than a bulldozer.

Cow tipping is a concept predicated on the theory that cows slumber standing up. This implies that an individual could approach the cow and walk straight up to it while remaining completely motionless. This idea gave rise to the mischief of cow tipping, in which a person would approach a snoozing cow and seek to tip it over. 

But the truth is, while standing up, cows occasionally attain a type of resting condition. However, they are readily disturbed and are reasonably aware of what is happening in front of them. And they always lie down when they enter a profound sleep state.

The second concern with creeping up on a cow that is relaxing while upright is that several cows are awake and alert at any given moment in a herd of animals.

Even though cows are mostly tamed now, they still can flee if they fear an attacker is around or notice others in the group who appear spooked by anything. 

If one cow in the group hears or sees something suspicious, they will rapidly inform the others through their conduct, prompting them to remain on guard.

Because an upright cow that is relaxing is quickly disturbed from its relaxed state, even if there are no other cows nearby, creeping up on one of these cows becomes vastly more challenging, if not unthinkable.

There is also a quick physics issue to consider. Cows have a relatively low center of gravity, which indicates it takes a lot of strength to knock one down.

The scenario could become tense, particularly if the cow wakes up during the procedure, as most cows dislike being bothered. Because cattle defecate and pee when scared or irritated, so cow tippers would undoubtedly receive a few unpleasant blows or a surprise discharge.

Here’s what the maths says!

Two brown cattles
Two brown cattle | Image Credit – Doruk Yemenici

And besides, cows stand on four legs and, if nudged, will swiftly adjust their body weight to a broader, more secure position. Mathematical computations assume an immobile cow in a steady state, where one can deliver a slow, constant force without causing resistance, the ideal and impractical state for cow tipping. 

If that does not satisfy you, search for Newton’s Second Law in your high school science textbook: Force equals mass times acceleration.

A cow has a considerable weight, and you will want to transfer that load efficiently, so the cow doesn’t have time to respond. As a spin-off, you will have to use a lot greater force.

This computation and assessment are founded on a 2005 research by University of British Columbia professors Margo Lillie and Tracy Boechler, who devised an equation to calculate the energy exerted to topple a cow.

A cow 1.45 meters high shoved at an angle of 23.4 degrees relative to the floor would demand 2,910 Newtons of force, comparable to 4.43 people. In other words, flipping a cow — a creature weighing roughly a ton would necessitate a collective effort comprising four or even five (possibly even more) humans.

Should you give it a try?

It is indeed unclear why anyone would do this, but the reality that many individuals have attempted it persists. But, the world is a weird place, with much strange stuff, and so are humans!

In any case, to make cow-tipping succeed, you would need to acquire a cow napping in a standing posture and at least five very muscular and hefty individuals.

Additionally, to continue sleeping or be inactive enough to enable itself to be overturned, the cow would probably have to be severely unwell, and the creature could be critically hurt due to the collapse.

Individuals do endeavor cow-tipping on occasion, and they are physically outmatched. The casualty rate will probably be exceptionally high because several cow-tipping missions are planned while intoxicated, impairing their reasoning and reaction speed.

People are frequently hurt by would-be assailants or defensive livestock, particularly bulls, who detect a menace to the flock and charge.

Because the cow’s vital organs are not equipped to resist the rapid shock of a lateral tumble, cow tipping is said to be deadly to the cow on which this inhumane action is performed.

In the United States, cows are the third most lethal animal, with only horses and deer killing more humans yearly. Exercise extreme caution, or better yet, avoid this tipping thing altogether unless you don’t care for your life!

Things to know about cows before you attempt tipping one!

  • Depending on species, maturity, and sex, they can reach up to 2,500 pounds.
  • They can smell you up to five kilometers away, so creeping upon them isn’t straightforward.
  • They can also detect frequencies that you can’t, and they could receive alerts from other cows, which are blatant signals of your proximity.
  • Humans can make cows nervous, particularly if they have babies. They aren’t ordinarily hostile but may quickly injure a human and defend their offspring if spooked.
  • There are far more violent and pushy bulls where there are cows. Don’t be fooled by their comfortable and pleasant demeanor. Also, dairy bulls are considerably more deadly than beef bulls, as the bull’s inherent role is to keep the group safe from predators.
  • They can and do stampedes (approximately 22 people are killed annually in the United States), and they can run faster than expected (at least 40 km per hour), so don’t blame me if one chases you down!

To Wrap Up

Black and White Dairy Cow's Head
Black and White Dairy Cow’s Head | Image Credit – Jan Koetsier

Even if you question a group of non-farmers concerning cow tipping, there will be plenty of people of faith. So here is the deal: People claim it is conceivable, but there is no evidence to substantiate their claims.

If we are honest, there is more Yeti clip on the internet than cow-tipping evidence. In the age of cell phones, this raises red flags.

Do you have any doubts? Set me straight by searching YouTube. You won’t discover a single cow-tipping video on the internet.

And are we supposed to assume that no one in the countryside possesses a smartphone? Or do cow tippers believe no one would be interested in seeing a cow toppled? The absence of cow-tipping footage, in any case, appears strange.

But, if you question me, we think the term was merely a local custom. For instance, “What are your plans for later this evening?” And the person casually replies, “Nothing much, although I’m going cow-tipping.” 

And besides, the age-old act of cow tipping isn’t really an old trick because it only transpires in cinema or telltale.

Cow-tipping is physically, mathematically, and scientifically impossible. Nevertheless, cow tipping will continue as long as there is drink, gullibility, and a farm. Fortunately for the cows, there’s a slim possibility they will ever wind up on their backs.

(Last Updated on October 19, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!