Cow tipping is bull, say scientists, Tillamook dairy farmer

Derrick Josi, a fourth-generation Tillamook dairy farmer, attempts to tip a cow on his pasture.

If you live anywhere near cows, and many of us do, you've likely heard stories about cow tipping.

But is it even possible?

We talked with a local expert and looked into the science separating fact from bull about the long-lasting rural legend.

In case you don't know, cow tipping is the alleged activity in which a person sneaks onto a pasture at night and pushes a cow over for laughs.

Stories about it are just about everywhere including the dairy farm-rich city of Tillamook.

“Yes, I've heard of it but I've never actually seen it before,” Morgan Queen, who lives in the city, told KATU. “I did know a few high school kids who've done it before."

"I know a couple people (who’ve done it)," said Kristina Cullop, who’s also from Tillamook. “They just told me that they did it and that was about it."

But it's hard if not impossible to find proof cow tipping is real.

Both Queen and Cullop admitted they’d never seen pictures or video of cow tipping.

And neither have we.

Search YouTube and you'll find footage of all kinds of strange activities but not one video of cow tipping.

Out on his pasture, Derrick Josi, a fourth-generation Tillamook dairy farmer, called in a herd of heifers and offered us his take on this tall tale.

“You know, I've taken a few people cow tipping before,” Josi told a KATU reporter.

After being asked if it worked, Josi replied, “No. But it's sure fun to watch 'em try. … Cows don't sleep standing up. A cow is anywhere between a thousand and 1,400 pounds so if you try and push one over, you're most likely gonna be the one that gets knocked over."

Also, cows are not easy to sneak up on as a KATU photographer found out in Josi’s pasture. (Click on the video above to see what happened).

“Cows aren't slow,” Josi said. “You're most likely gonna miss 'em if you try and tip one over 'cause they'll move."

And just for good measure, Josi gave us a little demonstration, pushing one of his cows with both hands and watching it walk away.

“Didn’t work!” Josi said, chuckling.

The cow, annoyed, appeared to be fine.

Scientists at the University of British Columbia made similar discoveries using basic physics.

In 2005, researchers there found it would require around five people to exert enough force to push over a cow. And even then they said it's unlikely to work.

Theoretically, two people could exert the force needed to tip a cow that doesn't react or move, but as Josi pointed out, that's a rare circumstance and the animals are easily spooked.

After being asked why she thinks people keep telling stories about cow tipping if it’s not possible, Cullop said, “Why do people tell any story?"

Before answering the same question, Queen smirked.

“Tillamook is full of cows so might as well, you know, make some fun stories about 'em,” she said.

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