Cow Tipping for Real

Filed in Archive, Blog by on July 20, 2013 2 Comments


Cow tipping is not a myth. Cows can be tipped over by a single person who has the knack. Admittedly two people make the job much easier. Despite the lame YouTube videos that show plastic figurines tipping cows or failed cow tipping expeditions, it is not only possible but an everyday work practice in some parts of Australia

Ignore the research from Dr Margo Lillie, a zoologist at the University of British Columbia (Canada), who claims ‘science’ proves it impossible for a single person to tip a cow (quoted in Wikipedia). Although Dr Lillie does admit two people could push over a cow if it does not react. And she concedes four people could push over a cow if it reacts. Well … bulldust!

For the first time in this cyber-world of misinformation, I will now reveal the true art of cow tipping. There is, however, one condition to you receiving “the knowledge”: if you ain’t got the knack before you try this on real cows, don’t come to me for compensation.

I was taught the knack as part of my job as a jackaroo on a cattle station in NW Australia by men who were doing it long before I went there and are probably still doing it now. This wasn’t something for beginners to do for drunken amusement. Although it’s true some of the old hands were not always sober.

First you need a cow, any breed, herded into a (preferably) round yard about five metres in diameter. Don’t use your rumpus, lounge or pool room because you also need rails to sit on top of.

Legend has it that cows sleep on their feet. Incorrect. They lie down to go to sleep. If they are standing up with their eyes closed they are only resting. So there wouldn’t be much point trying to tip a cow that is already lying down asleep, would there? Anti-climax is the term.

Now back to the cow entering your round yard while you sit up on the top rail, about two metres (six feet) above the ground. The cow will look at you for a long time unless it’s distracted. If you have the patience, you can wait for it to look away from you.

But it’s much quicker to ask a friend – the sillier the better – to distract the cow. The friend does not, repeat does not, have to handle the cow in any way. Just pull faces, make noises, jump around – anything to make the cow turn so it is not facing you. Simple enough, so far?

It starts to get trickier from here. When the cow has its butt towards you, leap from the top rail and grab it by the tail. Yes, grab the end of the cow’s tail but don’t yank it. Use two hands. Get a good grip and make it quick. If you hesitate, you will regret it. Cow tipping favours the brave.

Now comes the real knack: do not yank the tail until the cow turns fully to charge you. Three things to note at this point.

Firstly, the cow sometimes pauses to look stupidly at you for a few seconds that can seem like minutes when you are holding its tail. But don’t yank yet. Secondly, you must wait until the cow turns to charge you – and believe me, it will. Then, and only then, you yank the tail. If the cow is not bent around, it will not tip. Thirdly, you heave the tail with all your might toward the same side of the cow that it is trying to charge you on.

This is when you can fully appreciate “the knack”. If you don’t pull hard at the right time, the cow won’t tip. But if you’ve held your nerve, it is amazing to watch the cow, bent double in in all its fury, with its horn only two feet away from you, actually tip rather suddenly and comically to the ground.

If you were doing this for a prank you could now run away, satisfied at having tipped a cow, possibly having videoed it for friends to be amazed if they are that impressionable.

If you are doing it as part of your work, you then jump on the back part of the cow, wrap its tail under and over its uppermost back leg to trap it. Normally a fellow jackaroo (your silly friend could do this) would jump on the cow’s head at the same time. Dodging the horns, of course, it there are any.

On a cattle station, the cow would probably be branded at this point with a hot iron, its horns sawn off and an ear tagged. The young male cattle with testicles (mickeys) come off even worse, although bulls aren’t tampered with.

And there you have it. Cow tipping for real. Take that, Dr Lillie!

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Comments (2)

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  1. William Shaine says:

    The phrase “How now brown cow” originally came from Scotland in the 1700’s. Some sources say that, “brown cow” was a phrase that used to mean a barrel of beer because a barrel of beer is brown and ungainly like a cow. Other sources said “brown cow” just referred to the beer and that people could order another beer by saying, “How now brown cow.”
    More recently, “brown cow” can refer to a root beer float (i.e. vanilla ice cream floating in root beer soda). The phrase, “How now brown cow” has been used as a pronunciation exercise (like “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”).
    “Tipping a cow” is drinking beer from a a “brown cow” mug, jug, or flagon. Root beer floats, particularly root beer with chocolate ice cream, are brown cows today. With vanilla ice cream, they are “black cows”. Sometimes a black cow is with cola, although for me it was always with root beer.
    The great thing about black and brown cows with root beer is that they bubble over the top in quite an extraordinary way. Tipping a root beer cow can become quite messy.
    A cow tipping contest is a group of people guzzling down as much as they can.

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