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  #1  
Old 07 January 2009, 06:36 AM
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Cow Cows can't walk down stairs

Comment: My son told me about this one that involves a cows ability (or
lack thereof) to walk down steps. It goes like this:

Some seniors wanted to pull a prank on a particular teacher at their
school. One evening, the students sneak a cow into the school and lead it
upstairs to the teacher's room.

All was fine and dandy until the following morning when staffers
discovered that even though cows can walk up steps, they cannot walk down
them! As a result they had to cut a large hole in the roof and extricate
the cow using a crane.

So, the question: Can cows walk up and down stairs?
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  #2  
Old 07 January 2009, 06:45 AM
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Video proof that a cow can in fact walk downstairs. Doesn't seem too happy about it, and is really careful, but it goes down them.
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Old 07 January 2009, 11:59 AM
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IIRC cows don't like to go down stairs because the postion of their eyes makes it difficult/impossible for them to see where they are placing their feet.
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Old 07 January 2009, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
Video proof that a cow can in fact walk downstairs. Doesn't seem too happy about it, and is really careful, but it goes down them.
Inconclusive, since that cow walked down a stair, not stairs. Also, that was an Indian cow, and they tend to have a god complex, and think they can do anything.
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Old 07 January 2009, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
Video proof that a cow can in fact walk downstairs. Doesn't seem too happy about it, and is really careful, but it goes down them.
Could a cow go down an entire flight? This cow barely seemed to able these few steps.
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Old 07 January 2009, 02:32 PM
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Texas A&M (which should know, being an Ag school, but I heard many, MANY an urban legend while I was there.) has a building nicknamed the BBQ building. The story they give on the tour is similar to the OP, but rather than cutting a hole in the ceiling, they slaughtered the cow and had a big BBQ.
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Old 07 January 2009, 02:39 PM
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I have no firsthand knowledge. As a former farm kid, I thought I knew a bit about the ways of cows, but I admit I have no clue if they can go down stairs; it just honestly never came up. The objections raised were fair ones.

Although it is not exactly applicable, I do know horses can go down stairs, but they really really don't like to, and will instead stand for hours with their head through a window, bawling. Eventually they either decide it is more important to get off the porch than it is not to go down the steps, or they figure out that humans are useless and are not going to help them (again).

I think a cow probably could go down stairs, but like horses, it would really really not like it. While it looks awkward, and is probably a bit shaky, it is more sturdy than it looks. In principle, with the motions the cow was making, it would be stable enough to go down a flight.

So any present farm kids wanna put their cattle through an obstacle course in the interest of science? Someone on snopes has to have both a cow and a set of stairs...
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Old 07 January 2009, 02:48 PM
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My STBX's brother runs a cattle farm. I could ask her to contact him to perform an experiment, but unfortunately I doubt either of them would be willing to participate - even for such a good cause, especially as he's just had his house renovated, and it's hard to get cow shit off of carpets.

Cows walk down hills without problems don't they? How much more difficult can it be for them to walk down stairs?
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Old 07 January 2009, 03:21 PM
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Somebody nees to write to Louis Sacher and ask him how he got them out of Wayside.....
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Old 07 January 2009, 03:23 PM
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IIRC, this UL was featured in an early episode of Hill Street Blues. I think they ended up hoisting the cow out the window -- but that may be wishful thinking on my part.
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Old 07 January 2009, 03:35 PM
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Here is a youtube video of a cow going down stairs, but OTOH it is a very short flight of stairs.

Nick
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  #12  
Old 07 January 2009, 07:28 PM
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Whalephant

I've got a lot of first-hand experience with cows, and... I'm damned if I know! Nobody was ever silly enough to try this!

I did once see a bull try to climb a ladder. It was actually the
set of metal railings on the side of a flat-bed truck, and,
doggone if the poor critter didn't get his forefeet over the
top, and then hooked back in again under the top railing!
He was caught, and caught good. Hell of a job getting him
free.

I've also seen cattle clamber up to the top of fairly steep
outcrops of rock, and then get down again. They can be
surprisingly agile. These'd be free-range cattle, not dairy
cows, living a little closer to the "state of nature."

Silas
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Old 07 January 2009, 07:40 PM
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I have heard portions of two interviews by Temple Grandin this week, and her works is fascinating!

[ETA my point: she would probably know if cows will go up stairs or not.]
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Old 07 January 2009, 08:08 PM
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Am I the only one who thought that Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, could talk a cow down a set of stairs with a bit of "persuasion"?
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Old 07 January 2009, 10:17 PM
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Well, the bull had no problem going down the porch steps after Mom chased him with a broom. Getting him turned around in a box (the porch) no bigger than he was proved to be a bit more difficult. Especially since he wanted to continue on into the house and Mom didn't want him to.

The farm that we grew up near had "stairs" up to the grain bin. They were about 12 feet long, 5 feet wide and maybe 6 inches deep. There were probably 8-10 "steps" up. They were also level with the surrounding ground. It went from the bin to the gate that led to the barn.

I always figured they were that big so they could cross back and forth without getting hurt since it cut down the middle of the hill but now I'm wondering if it was for their convenience as well. They didn't have any trouble using it.
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Old 08 January 2009, 01:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Credence View Post
Am I the only one who thought that Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, could talk a cow down a set of stairs with a bit of "persuasion"?
Well, it was a donkey up a minaret, but yes I thought the same.
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  #17  
Old 08 January 2009, 02:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CannonFodder View Post
Well, it was a donkey up a minaret, but yes I thought the same.
I thought about it, but I figured it didn't really apply. Donkeys will go up and down steps forward all day, it is only backwards that they would not (and minarets are too narrow to turn around in).
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Old 11 January 2009, 04:46 PM
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Well, granted it's an old family story, but if it's true that cows can't go downstairs, then someone in my family is full of it, and the rest of us are horrifically gullible.

The story goes ...

My two great-grandfathers were best friends, and would often get drunk together, even when the were supposed to be doing other things. One day, they got rip-roaring drunk while driving cattle to market, and thought it would be absolutely hilarious to drive the cattle through the center of the courthouse. Which does involve going up one giant set of stairs, and down the stairs on the other side.

Granted, this is anecdotal, and obviously not being born yet, I cannot attest to the accuracy of this story. But it's often repeated at family gatherings.

I have however, seen cows jump gates. Not pretty.
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  #19  
Old 11 January 2009, 05:11 PM
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Cow

Disclaimer: I'm not a cow, nor do I play one on TV.

I would think cows have all the necessary muscles and joints to be able to go down stairs, they may just not know how to. On that basis, even if they can't naturally work out how to go down stairs I would guess that they can at least be taught how to do it.

I, of course, could be giving cow intelligence far more credit that it deserves. Do we have any cows posting on snopes who can confirm either way?

ETA: Not nearly enough cow icons in the top left corner on this thread. Disappointing.
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  #20  
Old 11 January 2009, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dactyl View Post
Do we have any cows posting on snopes who can confirm either way?
To answer your question - Moooo!
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