One reason cow tipping is a myth is because cows weigh a lot. About 1,400 pounds to be exact, which makes the idea of shoving your shoulder into the side of one to knock it over isn’t exactly plausible. It would be like trying to knock down a car. If you don’t believe us, this article even spells out the math!
Cows may doze off from time to time while standing, but when they need real rest, they generally lie down to sleep or take a load off.
Our bovine friends actually spend up to 14 hours a day lying down, which they accomplish by leaning forward on their chest and forelimbs or lying flat on their sides. The cows will break up this major time of rest with some standing sessions every few hours to stretch, but then they’re all about taking pressure off the hooves again. For cows, lying down is the best position to digest food, circulate blood to a female’s udders to increase milk production, and even give the hooves a chance to dry off if the ground is wet.
The cow will only spend about a portion of the 14 resting hours sleeping, usually just four hours or so a day. Think about that: Four hours is only 16.4 percent of a 24-hour day! That time is also broken down into short naps throughout the day and night that only last one to five minutes at a time. The remainder of the rest is spent in a cozy state of half-sleep drowsiness.
Cows can’t enter essential REM sleep stages while standing, so if a cow doesn’t have a weatherproof area with bedding material to truly rest, they’ll become sleep deprived, irritable, and less productive in the milk department. A cow needs enough space to lean forward and back as they lie down, stretch once they’re on the ground, and extend their back and front legs outward. Some farmers and dairies are even investing in waterproof cow beds for stalls, since cows require dry bedding that will stay clean of bacteria and mold growth.
FYI—No one likes to say they’ve been “horse tipping”, but in case you’re ever tempted to, it’s probably a waste of time as well. Horses have a lot in common with cows when it comes to sleep. They doze a lot, need a comfortable place to truly lie down, and get short snatches of REM sleep.