THE PHYSICS OF COW TIPPING. Swearingen also reports on what physics says about the problem of tipping a 1400 pound cow. And a cow which can step to the side to resist toppling over. He includes a diagram and calculations which show that it would take about 1360 newtons of force to tip a cow under ideal conditions (including cow unbraced and the force being applied steadily without pushback). Two people might be able to do it. If the cow can shift its weight to a more stable stance, much more force is required—that of five or six people acting in coordination. Swearingen links to an article which quotes Tracy Boechler, one of the authors (with Dr. Margo Lillie) of what is apparently the leading paper on the problem: “a cow of 1.45 metres in height pushed at an angle of 23.4 degrees relative to the ground would require 2,910 Newtons of force, equivalent to 4.43 people.”
One possibility that has been suggested to deal with the problem of the cow taking a more stable stance would be to have somebody lean against the cow on the other side to prevent the cow from moving. There would, of course be a risk of that person winding up under 1400 pounds of cow.