Cow Tipping

One day last week, AJ and I were driving around and went through a drive-thru. The tip jar at the window said, “Tip us, not cows.” AJ, who has spent very little time in the rural environs of southwest Ohio, asked, “What is cow tipping?”

Cow tipping is an alleged sport wherein participants take advantage of cattle’s tendency to sleep on their feet and their supposed high center of gravity. It is assumed that the cow will go down without too much resistance. However, cow tipping is a myth.

For starters, a bovine can weigh up to 1500 pounds. You try pushing something that big on its side. Second of all, cattle get very agitated, especially bulls. So now you have over half a ton of angry animal that can move pretty fast when upset or scared. Third, cattle do not sleep. Nope. That’s a mammal trait they don’t seem to have.

However, when your kid asks you about something as weighty and heavy as cow tipping, you have to back it up with a story. It just so happens, I and several friends went a-cow tipping one summer night in the Before Time, in the Long Long Ago.

My parents sent me to a church camp for a couple of summers during high school. One night, a bunch of us decided since we were in a campground in the midst of Amish country, we would try this new sport called cow tipping. We slipped out of camp around midnight one night and into the cow pasture of a neighboring farm. The electric fence did not extend to where we entered. There were five of us, and two of my friends decided to take their chances with a very large Holstein bull. Hey, we were teenagers. What could possibly go wrong with aggravating a 1500-pound bovine that still had its horns in the middle of the night?

Well, they found out. So did the rest of us. Do you want to know what else I found out that night? I found out how fast I could run. I also found out how fast angry bulls can run. Three of us found our way back to the camp. The other two?

They found the electric fence. And you don’t really want to find the electric fence at midnight with an angry bull chasing you.

We never tipped a cow (or a bull). And I never went out to aggravate cattle again.

Now, ask me about a couple of relatives who also found the electric fence.

And how they had temporary sex changes for about an hour afterward.


4 thoughts on “Cow Tipping

  1. When I was a stupid teenager, we went out to do this late one night. We got away with it with the first cow that just went over, snorted and then took its time standing up while we ran. Cheered by our first success, we picked out a second cow and tried again.

    That one did not go well. We got away but got pretty banged up in the process.\

    We learned it was just not a bright idea.

    • Kevin, I assume it took multiple people to tip the first cow? Like I said, it’s generally considered a myth since one person isn’t going to destablize 3/4 of a ton of beef while the bovine in question is still inhabiting it.

  2. Everybody talks about cow tipping, so I had to ask my brother, the cattle farmer. As happens so often, it was his wife who answered. No such thing, she said, citing much the same information as you have. However, when cows get mad at one another, they are likely to perform a kind of cow-wrestling maneuver that can knock one of them off her feet.

    Bulls are frequently too lazy to get involved. In anything.

    Great post! Good info, and a cool image of church camp kids slipping through an Amish electrified fence. Say, what?

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