Racing Cows

Lb8535

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Sep 2, 2015
Messages
440
Likes
830
Points
94
Location
EST
#1
A few minutes ago at 4 pm I was driving along a 2-lane well-used paved county road that has small farm fields on both sides. On one side the farmer has a herd of about 25 black and white dairy cows. I noted that the herd was running, really sprinting, in a messy V shape following the cow at the head, down the pasture more or less toward the outbuildings of the farm. I'm a city girl, I've seen cows walking sedately in a group to be milked or fed, or wander over to greet a human they know who may be holding a treat, but I've never seen them gallop. I couldn't see the entire field but I didn't see anything scary running behind them. Does anyone know what was going on?
 

Ermintruder

Delineated by a professional cryptozoologist
Joined
Jul 13, 2013
Messages
5,256
Likes
6,900
Points
284
#3
but I've never seen them gallop.
Cows can move at a great speed, when they want to. Like most herd animals, if they are already standing (and the weather is not too hot) if one gets a fright and begins to run, a stampede is imminent.

They tend to instinctively compare risks. I've noticed that cows tend not to run away *as much* when it's wet or icy under-hoof. Even dogs get challenged, more, if the cows might slide about.

Highland coos never seem to run- but that's because they're half-blind, due to having a crazy fringe.
 

Ulalume

tart of darkness
Joined
Jan 3, 2009
Messages
3,213
Likes
6,083
Points
219
Location
Tejas
#4
Cows can move at a great speed, when they want to. Like most herd animals, if they are already standing (and the weather is not too hot) if one gets a fright and begins to run, a stampede is imminent.

They tend to instinctively compare risks. I've noticed that cows tend not to run away *as much* when it's wet or icy under-hoof. Even dogs get challenged, more, if the cows might slide about.

Highland coos never seem to run- but that's because they're half-blind, due to having a crazy fringe.
Oh yes. they can move! A little personal history here - one of my great-great grandfathers was trampled to death in a stampede on the Dodge City trail. Also if we're talking about stampedes, here's one of my favorite bits of folklore - the famous western song "ghost riders in the sky" (about a stampede into hell) was based on the European legend of the wild hunt.

Ermintruder, your Highland cows are so cute!
coo.jpg
 

Sollywos

Studying for finals of Grumpy Old Lady degree.
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Messages
160
Likes
512
Points
93
Location
In the enchanted library.
#5
They most certainly can move fast and it's never a good idea to go into a field of cows with their calves but if you do walk slowly and don't have a dog with you!!! Farmers are advised to avoid keeping the mothers and new calves in fields with public footpaths on account of them being Britains most deadly large animal. Don't know the recent figures but about 75 people were killed by them in the years 2000 - 2015, the majority of which were by newly calved cows and bulls.

As Ermintruder said above one spooks they all do. Other than the bulls and the new mothers they won't represent a danger if you don't alarm them. They however might alarm you as they are curious and if they see you walking along the other side of the fence will come up to check you out. Say 'hello' to one of them to be polite like and then others might come running over and it can be a bit unnerving! Keep calm and walk on and they'll lose interest.

I once accidently crossed a field of bullocks, I thought the farmer had moved them as I couldn't see them when I entered and was halfway across before I noticed them, showing a great deal of interest in me, when they came out from dip bordered by trees (site of an old lane), Yikes! It was not easy keeping my pace to ambling till I got to the other side!!! Farmer told me I was a wuss and that his bullocks were the gentlest beasts in the world. That might very well have been so but no way was I going to put it to the test.

Luckily I didn't know about them being dangerous when I was growing up in the countryside, my friend and I made a pet of one and rode it, after a fashion, as we really wanted a horse. She was called Poppy in case you are interested!

Mind you 75 deaths isn't that great a figure when you consider the numbers involved and all the other ways of getting killed so keep it in perspective they are not that dangerous if you treat them with respect knowing they can be!

Sollywos x
Like
 

Ermintruder

Delineated by a professional cryptozoologist
Joined
Jul 13, 2013
Messages
5,256
Likes
6,900
Points
284
#6
Cow vision is shown experimentally to be much-worse in daylight than at night (they are constantly-dazzled by sunlight) plus, they are surprisingly-bad at differentiating between colours (we beat them at this, and most board-games).

I'm unsure about the urban legend that whilst we mammals all biomechanically must 'see' the world upside-down (and the human brain inverts this to being the right way up), allegedly this may not be happening in quite the same way with cattle vision.

It's not unreasonable to surmise circumstantial links between herd behaviours and the type of vision they possess.

Studies have shown that there is much in common between bovine mental processing and certain aspects of autism in humans.

Cows are exceedingly-good at pattern recognition, and are able to detect minute changes in barely-visible tracks made upon grass-blades and shrubbery (this should not be surprising to us two-legged mammals, coming as a cow evolutionary survival skill)
 

Naughty_Felid

No longer interesting
Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
6,108
Likes
6,614
Points
294
#7
A few minutes ago at 4 pm I was driving along a 2-lane well-used paved county road that has small farm fields on both sides. On one side the farmer has a herd of about 25 black and white dairy cows. I noted that the herd was running, really sprinting, in a messy V shape following the cow at the head, down the pasture more or less toward the outbuildings of the farm. I'm a city girl, I've seen cows walking sedately in a group to be milked or fed, or wander over to greet a human they know who may be holding a treat, but I've never seen them gallop. I couldn't see the entire field but I didn't see anything scary running behind them. Does anyone know what was going on?
Hard to say really, it may have been feeding time, but more likely they got spooked by something and headed to safety. Cattle move as one to make the job of the predator harder. One cow's movement will influence the nearest and so on and so on until the whole heard is on the move at the same speed.
 

poozler

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
303
Likes
180
Points
59
#8
I took an old-fashioned steam train trip several years ago. The smoke and filth and noise were horrendous (I was coughing soot for days afterwards). When we passed a field of cattle, the poor animals took huge fright and positively bolted away from the tracks at great speed.

So, yeah, spooked.
 

IbisNibs

Exotic animal, sort of . . .
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
546
Likes
1,254
Points
134
Location
Outside my comfort zone.
#9
For my job I used to drive a lot along US highways through the countryside, and since I love animals of all kinds, enjoyed noticing what hte cows along the way were doing. On one sunny day, the adults in the herb were all grazing in one part of a large pasture, and a little distance away, all the little calves were on the ground asleep. There was one adult near them, like a babysitter.
On another occasion, I saw a bunch of them running along a pathway up a slight hill, which was the first time I'd ever seen a cow run. I just thought it must be milking time or dinner time, but of course I don't know.
 

Min Bannister

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
3,587
Likes
3,231
Points
184
#10
I used to cycle past a field of bullocks twice a day on my way to/from work and when they saw me coming they used to gallop alongside me till they got to the fence. They may have been spooked the first couple of times but I think they probably just started enjoying it.

I love coos. A couple of weeks ago on my way to work (by bus) there was another bus broken down by the side of the road and the whole herd that was in the field there was standing clumped around it watching what was going on. :)
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
25,320
Likes
20,793
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
#11
I took an old-fashioned steam train trip several years ago. The smoke and filth and noise were horrendous (I was coughing soot for days afterwards)
Last year I was luckily invited into the cab of a steam engine for 10 minutes or so and went off with a soot-blackened face. Happened to glance in a mirror and was stunned. No wonder I was being laughed at!
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
25,320
Likes
20,793
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
#12
I used to cycle past a field of bullocks twice a day on my way to/from work and when they saw me coming they used to gallop alongside me till they got to the fence. They may have been spooked the first couple of times but I think they probably just started enjoying it.

I love coos. A couple of weeks ago on my way to work (by bus) there was another bus broken down by the side of the road and the whole herd that was in the field there was standing clumped around it watching what was going on. :)
There are videos on YouTube of people playing music instruments to cattle. Great fun and beautiful to see.
 

Lb8535

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Sep 2, 2015
Messages
440
Likes
830
Points
94
Location
EST
#13
Thanks I knew there would be cow experts here. I did once see a herd of black Angus, which I was warned about as being aggressive, make the defensive circle thing in response to an enthusiastic Irish wolfhound who probably had never seen a cow in his life
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
48,266
Likes
19,863
Points
284
Location
Eblana
#16
A few minutes ago at 4 pm I was driving along a 2-lane well-used paved county road that has small farm fields on both sides. On one side the farmer has a herd of about 25 black and white dairy cows. I noted that the herd was running, really sprinting, in a messy V shape following the cow at the head, down the pasture more or less toward the outbuildings of the farm. I'm a city girl, I've seen cows walking sedately in a group to be milked or fed, or wander over to greet a human they know who may be holding a treat, but I've never seen them gallop. I couldn't see the entire field but I didn't see anything scary running behind them. Does anyone know what was going on?
Cattle chased my JRT once, he wasn't expecting that.
 

Colonel Z

Minister without Portfolio
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
12
Likes
20
Points
3
Location
United Kingdom
#21
Yes, I used to keep a few cattle on my smallholding for years before I let the land and I can confirm they can move very fast in unison if they want to. This also applies if you're trying to bring them into cattle houses for veterinary tests or in for the winter! Believe me. There's therefore nothing Fortean (or even slightly odd) about racing cows in my experience.
 

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
35,832
Likes
21,907
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
#22
Yes, I used to keep a few cattle on my smallholding for years before I let the land and I can confirm they can move very fast in unison if they want to. This also applies if you're trying to bring them into cattle houses for veterinary tests or in for the winter! Believe me. There's therefore nothing Fortean (or even slightly odd) about racing cows in my experience.
Is it true that if they stampede and you stand still, holding your arm out, they will go around you?
 

Colonel Z

Minister without Portfolio
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
12
Likes
20
Points
3
Location
United Kingdom
#23
Is it true that if they stampede and you stand still, holding your arm out, they will go around you?
I'm afraid that I can't say as I never tried that. I wouldn't have been brave enough to think of that! I have however had cows try to attack me when I was trying to bring them in out of the fields. I recall one occasion where the cow kept coming at me with its head several times with me just being able to jerk back each time until it luckily decided to charge off in the other direction! I was slightly hurt from moving back each time but the cow never actually touched me with its head. It was without doubt the scariest experience I ever had with keeping cattle.

In a related point, I have heard that said about dogs chasing humans, however. By that I mean, if you suddenly stop running and stand still, the pursuing dogs will run past you due to their tunnel vision. I've never been chased by dogs (thankfully!) but that does sound plausible, although (again) it's not likely to be something that immediately occurs to the pursued human in the heat of the chase!
 

catseye

For the greater good
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
1,043
Likes
2,923
Points
159
Location
York
#26
Watching cows that have been in all winter go out onto the first grass of spring is a thing of beauty.

These staid matrons, some with quite large udders, go bucking and galloping and mooing through the gate, hurtling around the field as though some kind of demon is after them! After a couple of minutes they settle down and start grazing.

Only time I've seen cows run apart from that was when they spotted the vet in his white coat up on the hill and sprinted away as fast as they could. Or once, when we think it was bot flies in the field, and they all tried to get away.
 

Swifty

doesn't negotiate with terriers
Joined
Sep 15, 2013
Messages
24,984
Likes
29,936
Points
284
#27
I'm afraid that I can't say as I never tried that. I wouldn't have been brave enough to think of that! I have however had cows try to attack me when I was trying to bring them in out of the fields. I recall one occasion where the cow kept coming at me with its head several times with me just being able to jerk back each time until it luckily decided to charge off in the other direction! I was slightly hurt from moving back each time but the cow never actually touched me with its head. It was without doubt the scariest experience I ever had with keeping cattle.

In a related point, I have heard that said about dogs chasing humans, however. By that I mean, if you suddenly stop running and stand still, the pursuing dogs will run past you due to their tunnel vision. I've never been chased by dogs (thankfully!) but that does sound plausible, although (again) it's not likely to be something that immediately occurs to the pursued human in the heat of the chase!
A dog chased me home on my bike once when I was a little kid (I was riding the bike, not the dog) and I managed to just get into the house. My Dad went out with a big stick and twatted it one and it ran away. The End.
 

Ermintruder

Delineated by a professional cryptozoologist
Joined
Jul 13, 2013
Messages
5,256
Likes
6,900
Points
284
#28
My Dad went out with a big stick and twatted it one and it ran away.
This is similar to one of my first direct personal interactions with a sheep (no, not like that).

In my early teens, way back in the last century, I was working during the school holidays at a very-isolated country hotel. This was a proper self-contained operation, with its own farming activities going on....I would literally be pulling veg from garden in the morning, and serving it for lunch alongside poached salmon (and I mean poached in both senses of the word).

Anyway, I looked out to see a sheep had broken-in to the vegetable garden, and it was eating that evening's dinner. I went out, and tried repeatedly to shoo it away, but it had the measure of me as a townie-at-heart, and just kept coming back.

I was suddenly saved by a passing shepherd. He looked at me with utter contempt....shouted "Oota ma way, chiel!!" and with the enthusiasm of a court executioner swung his crook in a savage arc and whacked the sheep so hard on the head that it fell to the ground like a sack of coal.

He then weeched* it up into the air via the curl of his crook (about 8ft high) over the fence whereupon it landed 10ft away, and ran off to eat grass with no obvious ill effects. "Awa ye gang bak intil thi houff an' get on wi yir kitchen wurk" said the sheperd "or mibbi a'll hyke ye owr the fence n'aa!"

So I did. Quickly. The End also

(*Fellow Scots speakers....is it 'weeched' or 'wheeched'? I've often wondered. But I've never written or spelt the word until today, despite having used it for well over half a century)
 
Last edited:

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
35,832
Likes
21,907
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
#29
This is similar to one of my first direct personal interactions with a sheep (no, not like that).

In my early teens, way back in the last century, I was working during the school holidays at a very-isolated country hotel. This was a proper self-contained operation, with its own farming activities going on....I would literally be pulling veg from garden in the morning, and serving it for lunch alongside poached salmon (and I mean poached in both senses of the word).

Anyway, I looked out to see a sheep had broken-in to the vegetable garden, and it was eating that evening's dinner. I went out, and tried repeatedly to shoo it away, but it had the measure of me as a townie-at-heart, and just kept coming back.

I was suddenly saved by a passing shepherd. He looked at me with utter contempt....shouted "Oota ma way, chiel!!" and with the enthusiasm of a court executioner swung his crook in a savage arc and whacked the sheep so hard on the head that it fell to the ground like a sack of coal.

He then weeched* it up into the air via the curl of his crook (about 8ft high) over the fence whereupon it landed 10ft away, and ran off to eat grass with no obvious ill effects. "Awa ye gang bak intil thi houff an' get on wi yir kitchen wurk" said the sheperd "or mibbi a'll hyke ye owr the fence n'aa!"

So I did. Quickly. The End also

(*Fellow Scots speakers....is it 'weeched' or 'wheeched'? I've often wondered. But I've never written or spelt the word until today, despite having used it for well over half a century)
He must have been a very strong fellow.
 

brownmane

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Feb 1, 2019
Messages
513
Likes
955
Points
93
Location
Ontario, Canada
#30
I grew up on a dairy farm. Yes cows follow each other. They do seem to have a lead cow. When I would herd them from the field to the barn, I would only have to get one to start moving (getting one to move was the real task) and the others would follow. Once they got used to the routine, as they were only out in the field in the summer/fall months, they would walk themselves up to the barn for milking and usually it was the same lead cow in the front.

Cattle seem to be curious and will watch things going on.

Never get between a cow and her calf. She will charge at you if you are too close.

As to whether a cow will run around you if it, or the herd is frightened, I don't know. Though, I have heard that cows are supposed to be more intelligent than horses for this reason. Cows (apparently) will run around you if frightened; whereas horses will run over you. I have never had a horse and I value my well being too much to be a test subject with cattle.

Making pets with cattle can be tricky as well. We never did this because of their size. If a cow becomes too familiar with you, and, for example, you happen to be standing between her and a wall, she might like to have a back scratch or something and lean into you and possibly pin you against the wall. Any amount of shouting or trying to get her to move might be ineffective as she is familiar with you and not startled. People have been injured/killed this way. I am definitely not saying that I would intentionally frighten cattle, but when you really need one to move for you, you need her to at least pay attention you.

Each cow also has her own personality and some can be mean. Some will intentionally head butt you or kick you if you get close enough. So I keep my distance from strange cows.

Bulls are another matter. We did not have bulls on a dairy farm. I don't trust bulls.
 
Top