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Cow Speed!

How fast do cows run? (A partial answer)

One question that has bothered us and a number of visitors is: How fast can a cow run?

Well, we have a partial answer.

Michigan State University held a number of cow races. The race rules require each cow to have a saddle and a rider. The race distance is one mile. The results can be found at

The fastest cow time was in 2003. Little Witch ran the track in 7 minutes, 31.54 seconds.

That translates into about 8 miles per hour (12.8 km/hour). Not especially fast. A human who runs a 4-minute mile is faster.

But consider that the distance the cow ran was an entire mile. And that she carried a saddle and rider on her back. So that is pretty fast after all (imaging running a mile with someone on your back!)

But, we still don't know how fast an unencumbered cow can run, especially for a shorter distance. We'll have to keep looking to see what the absolute top speed is for a cow in a sprint. We've seen some guesses on the Internet in the range of 15 - 20 miles per hour, but these are not supported by evidence (such as a link to a agricultural college or similar, reputable source).

For those of you who want to know the math...

7 minutes 31.54 seconds is 451.54 seconds.

The cow ran 1 mile in this time: 1 mile / 451.54 seconds.

There are 3600 seconds in 1 hour. So,

(1 mile / 451.54 seconds) * (3600 seconds / 1 hour) =

7.9727 miles / hour

Since 1 km is 0.62137 miles, we can multiply by the conversion factor: (7.9727 miles / hour) * (1 km / 0.62137 miles) = 12.831 km / hour