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Old 02-19-2018, 12:48 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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How dangerous are cows?

Many years ago I was deer hunting on my friend's farm in SE Ohio. We set out at 4:30 AM. I walked along with my flashlight and found a tree to stand under.

As the sun rose I noticed I was in the middle of a large cow pasture. There were probably a couple dozen cows in the pasture. A bunch of the cows were staring at me and some of them walked toward me very slowly. When a couple cows were about 100 feet from me I decided I had better leave. I walked toward a fence. As I was walking I could see a couple cows were picking up their pace. I got pretty nervous and decided to run toward the fence. I looked behind me and saw the two cows were now running toward me. I got over the fence in the nick of time.

Since that incident I have wondered: what would have happened to me if I hadn't of made it to the fence? Would they have trampled me? Or would they have just stopped when they got to me?

[Moderator Note - This thread was started in the General Questions forum, and was moved to Comments on Cecil's Columns/Staff Reports after becoming the topic of Cecil's column here: https://www.straightdope.com/columns...rous-are-cows/ ]

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 04-20-2018 at 05:53 AM.
  #2  
Old 02-19-2018, 01:03 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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It completely depends on the cow and the situation. Most cows are pretty docile but they will defend their territory if they sense an intruder on their turf. It is usually just a bluff to get you to leave. However, some bulls are aggressive and a few are REALLY aggressive and will charge, gore and trample you if they can catch you. I grew up around cows and the aggressive bulls were the only ones I ever worried about when out in the open. Any of them can hurt you badly in a confined area though just because of their size and strength.

Anything is possible. Cows kill about 20 people a year with bulls making up about half that number. Cows can also coordinate group attacks in some cases.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/cows-are-dea...new-1690950434
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:21 PM
sevenwood sevenwood is offline
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Well, they can be really dangerous when they have guns...
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:41 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Since that incident I have wondered: what would have happened to me if I hadn't of made it to the fence? Would they have trampled me? Or would they have just stopped when they got to me?
There is not a factual answer to that question, but have you considered that they might have thought you had something tasty to offer them to eat? It could be that they associate people with treat handouts. At any rate, domesticated animals like cows should be used to people and they could have just been curious to check you out closer. Get a good sniff and a better look. That's probably a lot more likely than being trampled, although being trampled can't be completely ruled out.

Last edited by John Mace; 02-19-2018 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:49 PM
Riemann Riemann is offline
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There is not a factual answer to that question, but have you considered that they might have thought you had something tasty to offer them to eat?
Do cows enjoy treats like (say) horses? I'm not a country boy, but I don't remember ever seeing anyone give a cow an apple. And it would seem a little patronizing to offer them a tasty clump of grass, unless perhaps it was freshly imported Argentinian Bahia that they couldn't access by, well, looking down.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:55 PM
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When I lived in Laredo, I was cautioned by the locals to be very wary of long horn cattle. They won't mess with a man on a horse or a motor vehicle, but are known to be aggressive to people on foot.
Here in the NE, I had a friend killed when he hit a cow while riding his motorcycle down a winding country road. So, if he were alive today, I guess he'd tell you that cows can be pretty damn dangerous.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:58 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is online now
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I can assure you that offering a cow a clump of grass that's outside their fence is warmly appreciated--sure, it's basically identical to the clumps of grass inside the fence but to their way of thinking it's completely different and much more tasty. I like cows, they tend to be pretty friendly and like to lick the salt off your hands, which is a little gross but amusing. They like their foreheads and ears scritched too.
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Old 02-19-2018, 02:00 PM
P-man P-man is offline
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If they saw you run, they probably thought you were running from something besides cows and decided they'd better get moving as well. Since there were two of them, it's unlikely you were being chased by a bull. The only time cows (as opposed to bulls) acted threatening to me was when their calves were having their nads removed.
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Old 02-19-2018, 02:15 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is online now
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Cows are curious and humans running is something they probably don't see all that often--you caught their interest. Best way to deal with farm animals is to be blandly uninteresting and acting like you know what you're doing and belong there--they'll usually believe you.
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Old 02-19-2018, 02:21 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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I have had the same thing happen when hunting. I won't challenge a bull and try to avoid confrontations but most all the cows I have run across will back down if you lightly charge them. I guess the breed could make a difference but cows seem more into bluffing and are easily intimidated.
  #11  
Old 02-19-2018, 02:22 PM
Riemann Riemann is offline
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I can assure you that offering a cow a clump of grass that's outside their fence is warmly appreciated--sure, it's basically identical to the clumps of grass inside the fence but to their way of thinking it's completely different and much more tasty. I like cows, they tend to be pretty friendly and like to lick the salt off your hands, which is a little gross but amusing. They like their foreheads and ears scritched too.
Ignorance fought. I think I like cows too, but I haven't got to know very many.

If you think having salt licked off your hands is gross but amusing... in the Sierra Nevada, you might be disconcerted to find marmots watching you pee, and then scurry up to eat the vegetation that you peed on. Salt is precious up there.
  #12  
Old 02-19-2018, 02:23 PM
Mr. Bill Mr. Bill is offline
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When I was a kid (7 - 10 years old), I lived next door to a working farm which was owned and operated by my friend's grandfather. As kids of that age, naturally the farm was a cool place to hang out.

In order to keep us busy (and out of trouble) he would give us chores from time to time. One of these chores was to move his herd of cattle from one pasture to another. The herd was only cows, as the bull was kept in a separate pasture until he was needed for mating duties.

The cows weren't usually all that thrilled by the idea of moving away from one perfectly good (to them) patch of grass to another that might not be any better. They would get stubborn and sometimes would threaten to get aggressive.

Now, to an 8 year old boy armed only with a stick, a 2000 pound cow looking at you with mayhem in mind is not a whole lot of fun. But, I learned that the way to handle the situation was to face the cow squarely, looking it in the eye, and assuming a dominant attititude. "You're just a stupid cow and you WILL do what I want you to do." After about thirty seconds of this, the cow would lose interest and decide she really wanted to go to the next pasture anyhow, and what was all the fuss about?

Cows are herd animals and respond to dominance by going along. That is true especially of females. I would never have tried that with the bull.
  #13  
Old 02-19-2018, 03:08 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Originally Posted by SmartAleq View Post
I can assure you that offering a cow a clump of grass that's outside their fence is warmly appreciated--sure, it's basically identical to the clumps of grass inside the fence but to their way of thinking it's completely different and much more tasty. I like cows, they tend to be pretty friendly and like to lick the salt off your hands, which is a little gross but amusing. They like their foreheads and ears scritched too.
Ha, yes. One of the bolder ones will amble over for some of that sweet, sweet other-side-of-the-fence grass, and next thing you know the whole herd is there. Cows are pretty cool.

Having said that, they are the leading cause of death by animal in the UK, but that's mostly incidents with bulls and to a lesser extent cows with calves.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 02-19-2018 at 03:08 PM.
  #14  
Old 02-19-2018, 03:09 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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The worst thing I have seen about cows is their hooves hurt like hell if you have flip- flops on.
Yea, I was that stupid.
  #15  
Old 02-19-2018, 03:14 PM
Just Asking Questions Just Asking Questions is offline
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"Cowed" as an adjective wasn't just pulled out of thin air.

Given that, individuals have differences. We had an aggressive one that chased me and rolled me along the ground when I was a kid.

I'm sure she still tasted good when cooked, though.
  #16  
Old 02-19-2018, 03:37 PM
Riemann Riemann is offline
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
"Cowed" as an adjective wasn't just pulled out of thin air.
But the archetypal cow is surely not aggressive and bullying, and I can't find any suggestion that this might be the etymology.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cowed
http://www.wordcentral.com/cgi-bin/s...udent&va=cowed
https://www.etymonline.com/word/cow

The last reference suggests that the modern meaning may derive from the opposite of what you suggest, that cows are passive and easily herded.

For what it's worth "bully" does not derive from bull either, it's one of those interesting words that drifted from a positive to negative meaning over the centuries.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/bully
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Old 02-19-2018, 03:38 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Dangerous Cows = band name!
  #18  
Old 02-19-2018, 03:38 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Cows associate humans with food. Not as prey but as the providers of food. They will follow you to see if you are going to feed them, if you are going back to the barn, if you are moving them to another field with better food. Dairy cows need to be milked or it is painful for them, maybe a human in the field means we are getting milked early today.

Bulls can be territorial but most cows are not. Crafter Man the OP probably just got spooked for no reason. The cows just wanted to see want he had for them.
  #19  
Old 02-19-2018, 03:40 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Once airborne cows are extremely dangerous to anyone in the landing zone.
  #20  
Old 02-19-2018, 04:21 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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Cows can be troublesome if you invite them inside for a few drinks.
  #21  
Old 02-19-2018, 05:58 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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If one falls from a tree and you are underneath, it could be fatal.
  #22  
Old 02-19-2018, 06:17 PM
seal_cleaner seal_cleaner is offline
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My brother-in-law has a cattle ranch. He and his wife have both been injured by aggressive cows.
  #23  
Old 02-19-2018, 06:17 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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There is always 'Mad Cow' disease to worry about.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:58 PM
Just Asking Questions Just Asking Questions is offline
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There is always 'Mad Cow' disease to worry about.
Different kind of mad.

  #25  
Old 02-19-2018, 06:59 PM
Just Asking Questions Just Asking Questions is offline
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
But the archetypal cow is surely not aggressive and bullying, and I can't find any suggestion that this might be the etymology.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cowed
http://www.wordcentral.com/cgi-bin/s...udent&va=cowed
https://www.etymonline.com/word/cow

The last reference suggests that the modern meaning may derive from the opposite of what you suggest, that cows are passive and easily herded.

For what it's worth "bully" does not derive from bull either, it's one of those interesting words that drifted from a positive to negative meaning over the centuries.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/bully
Should have known not to make a grammar joke here!
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:02 PM
Riemann Riemann is offline
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Should have known not to make a grammar joke here!
Semantics, not grammar.
  #27  
Old 02-19-2018, 07:12 PM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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94% of walkers attacked by cows had dogs with them. Cows, especially with calves do not like dogs. The advice i have heard is do not try to protect the dog, let go of it's lead and look out for yourself. the dog has a better chance of getting a=ways on it's own and without the dog the cows may leave you alone.
  #28  
Old 02-19-2018, 08:19 PM
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Once airborne cows are extremely dangerous to anyone in the landing zone.
Fetchez la vache!
  #29  
Old 02-19-2018, 09:58 PM
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Also good to remember that cows tend to kick forward and to the side whereas horses and mules tend to kick backward. Not a hard and fast rule, but a general one to keep in mind when around large farm critters getting agitated.
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Old 02-19-2018, 10:07 PM
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In my experience, and as you no doubt noticed, cows are big. Actually, cows are fucking huge. With no ill will at all, a slowly moving cow could do serious damage, knocking you over and stepping on you. If she picked up a bit a speed? I shudder to think.

I guess there was no barbed wire on the fence? Huh.
  #31  
Old 02-19-2018, 10:45 PM
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If she picked up a bit a speed? I shudder to think.
Udder devastation. A milkbath.
  #32  
Old 02-19-2018, 10:54 PM
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I thought this was going to be another tipping thread.
  #33  
Old 02-19-2018, 11:45 PM
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18% minimum (for a group this large)
  #34  
Old 02-20-2018, 12:37 AM
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Bill Bryson is a humor writer, but he usually has some relevant facts. In his latest book about England (The Road to Little Dribbling) he talks about cows.
Now, the British love to go "rambling"* along the many footpaths that are proudly maintained throughout the countryside.
But in a small country , those footpaths frequently take you onto private farmland, where there are........cows.

From a book review:
“The real danger is cows. Cows kill a lot more people than bulls.” Bryson pursues the fact that cow-trampling is rare enough, but always reported in British papers, and completely ignored in the States, where death by shooting takes precedence. He claims that if he asked a British friend about their chances of being attacked by a cow, the friend would be aware of the danger. An American would reply, “Why would I be in a field with cows?”




*(not "hiking"--that's done by Americans, who have real mountains )
  #35  
Old 02-20-2018, 12:54 AM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
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Just when you thought it was safe to back in the pasture...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
As the sun rose I noticed I was in the middle of a large cow pasture. There were probably a couple dozen cows in the pasture. A bunch of the cows were staring at me and some of them walked toward me very slowly. When a couple cows were about 100 feet from me I decided I had better leave. I walked toward a fence. As I was walking I could see a couple cows were picking up their pace. I got pretty nervous and decided to run toward the fence. I looked behind me and saw the two cows were now running toward me. I got over the fence in the nick of time.
Moo moo...

Moo moo...

Moo moo, moo moo, moo moo, moo moo, moo moo, moo moo MOOO!
  #36  
Old 02-20-2018, 03:49 AM
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Moo moo...

Moo moo...

Moo moo, moo moo, moo moo, moo moo, moo moo, moo moo MOOO!
For the first time in a long time I had to get up and leave my desk to avoid laughing in front of coworkers.

I doubt I could explain myself without getting fired for lunacy.

Well done, 2 hooves up.
  #37  
Old 02-20-2018, 05:41 AM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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Interrupting cow wh-
MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
  #38  
Old 02-20-2018, 05:43 AM
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One time I was bicycling down a hill when I (we - there were two of us) encountered some Holsteins (those black and white dairy cows) on the road.
I was pretty scared as I couldn't slow down very well. The cows were also moving but if one of them stopped in front of me the conservation of momentum would not be in my favor...

Brian
  #39  
Old 02-20-2018, 06:10 AM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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I guess there was no barbed wire on the fence? Huh.
It was a long time ago, and I don't recall what kind of fence it was. I just remember climbing over (or through) the fence. And as I was doing so, I looked back and saw two cows running right toward me. They came to an abrupt stop at the fence. And yea, they're big animals.
  #40  
Old 02-20-2018, 11:45 AM
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For the first time in a long time I had to get up and leave my desk to avoid laughing in front of coworkers.

I doubt I could explain myself without getting fired for lunacy.

Well done, 2 hooves up.
Cow-workers?
  #41  
Old 02-20-2018, 12:05 PM
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I used to brand cattle that were kept on huge patches of leased land in eastern Oregon. These were pretty wild cattle and would only see people a twice a year. You didn't want to turn your back to them but they were basically harmless. A look would stop them in their tracks, take a step toward them with your hands raised and they pushing back to get the heck out of there. It can be a bit spooky when you're cutting the nuts off one of their kids, but they aren't going to attack you. I never tried running from them but it doesn't sound like a good idea.
  #42  
Old 02-20-2018, 12:18 PM
Do Not Taunt Do Not Taunt is offline
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I was hiking in a national forest in Montana with my girlfriend-at-the-time when, rather all-of-the-sudden, we noticed there were a dozen or so cows around. This wasn't deep, dark forest by any stretch, but it wasn't grassland either, and the cows seemed to be nibbling on various bushes, which mildly surprised me. They also seemed to be very interested in the nearby stream, which didn't surprise me in the slightest. And they didn't seem to care at all about the humans suddenly in their vicinity.

They all had tags attached to their ears, which made me hypothesize that local ranchers probably just let their cows go where they want during the summer, grow a fair bit, then (somehow) find them and round them up in the fall and sell them off to CAFOs.
  #43  
Old 02-20-2018, 01:01 PM
SmartAleq SmartAleq is online now
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I was driving from Moab, UT up to Yellowstone and took this meandering back road that went through miles of range land and there were signs posted all over warning that there could be cattle on the road since it was completely unfenced. They weren't kidding either--you had to drive very alertly because sometimes you'd come around a bend and find fifty or so wandering damage meat clumps blocking the road. They'll move eventually if you don't spook them and you can usually just idle right on through the roadblock. That was fun, but it was REALLY amazing having the same thing happen with herds of bison. Those suckers are HUGE.
  #44  
Old 02-20-2018, 01:13 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Well, they can be really dangerous when they have guns...
You'll pray for death.... you'll be all "Cow-gun, take me away...."
  #45  
Old 02-20-2018, 01:27 PM
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My son got badly licked by a cow in a petting zoo. It took him over 15 minutes to stop giggling.


"Don't kid yourself Jimmy, if a cow ever got the chance he'd eat you and everyone you cared about!"
-Troy McClure
  #46  
Old 02-20-2018, 02:16 PM
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Cow-workers?
I can tell you never hung out on the Cecil Adams Usenet group. "cow-orkers" is a long standing meme over there after some hapless newbie posted it.

Dennis
  #47  
Old 02-20-2018, 02:17 PM
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I once feed some whole, dried ears of corn to some cows. They loved it but one got the entire ear stuck sideways in its mouth. We high-tailed it out of there, I was sure it was going to die from choking.

Dennis
  #48  
Old 02-20-2018, 02:18 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is online now
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I never remember: border collies have "the eye" to lock onto a particular herd animal and then have its way with it. Are those cattle or sheep?

Sweet little corgis are great cattle herders, flattening to avoid kicks while nipping at their heel. I always think about how incredible they are as working dogs when everybody goo-goos at the Queen with her charges.
  #49  
Old 02-20-2018, 03:06 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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I never remember: border collies have "the eye" to lock onto a particular herd animal and then have its way with it. Are those cattle or sheep?
They are bred mostly for sheep, but they get used sometimes for cattle and other animals too.

They're smart dogs, and they are trained to be quite a bit more subtle than giving a herd animal "the eye" It never fails to impress watching a shepherd working with two or three dogs moving a flock around. I'm lucky that that's something I can see from my house on a regular basis.
  #50  
Old 02-20-2018, 03:08 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Originally Posted by Do Not Taunt View Post
I was hiking in a national forest in Montana with my girlfriend-at-the-time when, rather all-of-the-sudden, we noticed there were a dozen or so cows around. This wasn't deep, dark forest by any stretch, but it wasn't grassland either, and the cows seemed to be nibbling on various bushes, which mildly surprised me. They also seemed to be very interested in the nearby stream, which didn't surprise me in the slightest. And they didn't seem to care at all about the humans suddenly in their vicinity.

They all had tags attached to their ears, which made me hypothesize that local ranchers probably just let their cows go where they want during the summer, grow a fair bit, then (somehow) find them and round them up in the fall and sell them off to CAFOs.
Many park lands grant grazing rights to ranchers. You get used to occasionally passing by beef cattle. Funny comment I heard once, while walking by them - "Do you suppose they realize they're, like, ten times our size?". Having grown up around a lot of dairy farms I tend not to think of cows as particularly dangerous, although dairy breed bulls supposedly tend to be really mean. Most dairy farmers didn't keep a bull. We've mostly bred the critters for extreme docility for centuries. The ancestral aurochs the modern cow descended from is another story.
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