Physics: No, You Can't Tip a Cow
Stunt is the stuff of legend, not reality: 'Modern Farmer' writer
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2013 8:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – The age-old stunt of cow tipping isn't an age-old stunt after all, writes Jake Swearingen at Modern Farmer. In fact, he argues that it never happens in the real world, only in the movies. Don't believe him? Go scour YouTube and prove him wrong. You won't find a single such cow-tipping video for a simple reason: physics. It would be virtually impossible for a single person to dig in a shoulder and tip a cow, and almost as impossible for two or three. Physicists who studied the matter thought that six people might be able to get the job done. Still don't believe him? Talk to actual dairy farmers, as he does, and they'll clue you in: Cow tipping is an urban legend, rural-style.

Swearingen explains some of the other reasons—cows don't sleep standing up, and they're naturally wary animals, for example—to dispel the pop-culture myth, but he also digs into why it persists. One reason is "that the closest many people come to a cow is seeing a Holstein along the interstate." It looks easy to do from there, until you walk up to a 1,400-pound dairy cow in person. Another: Cow tipping is a "muddier, drunker, and more dangerous version of the snipe hunt"—that is, sending out a sucker on a futile mission, all for entertainment purposes. "In other words, as long as there’s booze, gullibility and a pasture nearby, cow tipping will live on," writes Swearingen. "Luckily for the cows, there’s very little chance they’ll ever end up actually on their sides." At TakePart, one Iowan who always felt "vaguely un-Iowan" for never trying now feels vindicated.

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Showing 3 of 47 comments
Sep 12, 2013 4:50 PM CDT
everyone on here is hilarious. either that, or I'm easily amused. which is pretty likely. still, some of this sh*t was f*cking funny.
Sep 12, 2013 10:52 AM CDT
Never tip a cow. Cows get salary + commission: they don't need tips.
Sep 9, 2013 10:16 PM CDT
Yes, its physics. Hit a cow with a 1970 Defender going 60 mph on US75 and it will tip, believe me. Then the sheriff shows up and says the highway patrol will be three hours. Then this old man shows up with a station wagon and gets out his carving knives and starts sharpening them on the rear hatch. Then he looks at us and says, "Hey boys, wants some mighty nice cuts for bbq for your mommies?" We think about it and then ask the sheriff if we can just file a paper report. He says to go into town and see Gladys at the dispatch office. We get to that office, after seeing the obligatory drunk Indian in the first holding cell. Then we hear on the radio, "Unit 1 to base. ask those boys if they want to stop back by here and get some meat to take home." She asks us and we say no. She tells him our answer then he says, "Well, wake up Hubert and tell him to roust about four trustees out of bed and bring out the truck to get about 800lbs of beef for the jail kitchen." At that juncture, we head out.