View Full Version : Do cows face into wind when eating?
26th Mar 2009, 12:11
I recall being told that cows face into wind (or was it OUT of wind) when eating and that you could use them as a windsock when carrying out a forced landing. Something to do with watching out for predators. Is this true or false? If true, is it valid for all cows worldwide?
I've just seen a 50-50 split here in the village.
Does it apply just to cows or to sheep as well?
Shortstripper. Any ideas about the cows on your farm?
26th Mar 2009, 12:17
Not sure about cows, but camels do in a sand-storm
Sorry, at to be the first:}
26th Mar 2009, 12:19
I think they would face into the wind because when they eat they produce a lot of flatulance and they wouldn't want to stand downwind of that.
26th Mar 2009, 12:28
I'm thinking that, even if the cows look as if they are not all pointing into wind, this may be deceptive.
A combination of wake turbulence in the wind coming off upwind cows, combined with irregular emissions of gasses at what are effectively different pressure altitudes, would suggest that they are all probably facing into their own personal "relative wind".
I'm sure there must be research funding available for this.
26th Mar 2009, 12:38
I'll keep an eye open for cows and get back to you on this, but meantime...
Something to do with watching out for predators
Wouldn't it be the other way round? You can smell the predators coming from the windy side so you would think they would look the other way, where smart predators are likely to come from. On the other hand there is some evidence that all cows think all day is "Mmmmm... grass".
And in any case there is some scientific evidence that cows align themselves with the earth's magnetic field. See And on that farm the cows face north – says Google - life - 25 August 2008 - New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14590-and-on-that-farm-the-cows-face-north--says-google-.html) so you could use them to check your compass. This research was not done by hanging around cows but in the modern armchair method by looking at herds on Google Earth.
26th Mar 2009, 12:39
I have found that cows, or 'farmyard animals of a bovine persuasion' as we have to call them now, will often cunningly stand at an angle that suggests a crosswind which is just out of limits.
I'll get me coat..........
26th Mar 2009, 12:45
You've seen the answer in the field check you've done so why ask us?
PS don't land in a field with one cow in - it's probably a bull.
Charlie Foxtrot India
26th Mar 2009, 13:57
Cows tend to graze downwind. When they are cudding they will face whichever way they feel like (and cows lying down DOESN"T mean it is going to rain!) which will usually be into wind if it is more than about 15 knots. If you land near them they will come and stand in a big circle around you, have a good look and a satisfying scratch against any pointy bits on the aeroplane, then go off and do whatever they were doing before you landed. They will stand in a solid line across the runway when you want to take off and will usually get out of the way just in time.
Very true about a field with only one "cow" in it!!
Sheep will usually graze into wind. They are very very very stupid.
26th Mar 2009, 14:56
Most cows stand in a circle, all facing outwards, to watch for predators whilst they eat. They also walk forward, expanding the circle, to ensure fresh grass, and not that stained with brown pies. Their fart gasses do enter with force towards the centre of the circle, and due to the coriolis force, rotate, forming a huge rising centrifuge. Glider pilots and helo drivers are often caught up in this phenomena.
I could go on, but I have to open another beer....
26th Mar 2009, 15:23
camels do in a sand-storm
That must get quite painful (for their owner), all that sand...
26th Mar 2009, 15:37
On joining overhead I always look for the one wearing the head set. If I can get its attention, I will ask which way the wind is blowing. That way I always ensure a safe and correct procedure, even at farm strips.:ugh:It also ensures that they are unable to deliberately 'trip me up'. Unless you land on top of one. Now who would do that:eek::eek:
wings on stornoway
26th Mar 2009, 23:22
Well i dont believe they face downwind when they fart ,think of the wash!!!
But if pigs could fly i know that bacon would go Up!!
27th Mar 2009, 07:18
I think this one was acting as a windsock...
YouTube - Tigermoth hits a cow during landing on a field (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pfZiTDchH0)
27th Mar 2009, 08:08
Don't forget to check the ripples on a dam for wind direction.
27th Mar 2009, 08:16
Ask Shortstripper - he's the cow expert
27th Mar 2009, 08:53
If you can smell them, then your downwind and low...simple !! As for your other theory...I would not try it. Failing that choose a sloping field and land up it.
27th Mar 2009, 10:27
Cows standing in a circle is well known to originate from ancient celtic times, when they all paid homage to the sun and moon gods. What you have observed is amost certainly a vestage of these ancient ceremony and nothing to do with wind direction. Of more concern is that some herds have begun to exhibit positive antagonism to increased aircraft movements in certain areas, particularly the south east and there is concern that they deliberately point in the wrong direction to confuse aircraft. There have been a couple of arrests for endangering aircraft, the offenders have been suitably punished and are now occupying several shelves in their local Tescos
27th Mar 2009, 20:25
No they don't ....
What's really a pain is trying to get them in to milk them when the wind and rain is blowing into their faces. Just like us, they hate it, and want to turn and stop :mad:
What they will do is stand or lay in the lee of a hegerow if the wind is strong and cold, or it's raining. However, to make them do that, the chances are that the weather would be too extreme to fly!
27th Mar 2009, 22:16
I think that cows do have a very sensitive sense of smell.
Several years ago Mrs Grubby and I were down in Seaton on the south coast of Devon. We took a walk and found a heard of cows lying resting in the corner of a field. We stopped to look as they were so close. As we stood admiring the beasts I was suddenly stricken with a severe bout of the wind. This was a result of a dodgy chicken Vindaloo the night before.
Mrs Grubby was not impressed. But what did impress her was the way all the cows suddenly stood up and walked to the other end of the field !!
27th Mar 2009, 22:46
The video of the poor old cow getting zapped. I know it was sad but it gave me a big grin on my face...did you see it drop? and the look on the pilot's face!
28th Mar 2009, 09:34
If you have to land a fabric covered aeroplane in a field make sure there are no cows in it. They love the taste of cellulose dope and they will make short work of your fabric and wing ribs! This is after they have discovered the smell of the dope by scratching themselves on the pointy bits as CFI pointed out.