It has been recorded that a cow can cover 328 feet in 12.8 seconds. So if we do the math, this means that a cow can run 17 miles per hour (or 27 kilometers per hour).
The maximum speed a cow can run is 25mph (40 kph), so they are definitely no slouches and can run faster than a number of other animals.
Top Speed of Cows vs. Other Animals
The fastest animal in the world is the peregrine falcon that has a maximum speed of 242 mph (389 kph). But it’s not exactly fair to compare the speed of a bird to a mammal. So let’s take a look at how fast a cow can run compared to other mammals and land animals.
All the following refer to the maximum speed the animal can run:
- Cheetah: 75 mph (120 kph)
- Horse: 55 mph (89 kph)
- Lion: 50 mph (80 kph)
- Greyhound: 46 mph (74 kph)
- Elf: 45 mph (72 kph)
- Llama: 40 mph (64 kph)
- Deer: 30 mph (48 kph)
- Cat: 30 mph (48 kph)
- Rabbit: 30 mph (48 kph)
- Sheep: 25 mph (40 kph)
- Pig: 11mph (18 kph)
- Chicken: 9 mph (14 kph)
So when it comes to farm animals, a cow can run just as fast as a sheep, but outruns a pig and chicken. Only the horse with its top speed of 55 mph, and llama with a top speed of 40 mph, are faster than a cow.
So for most farmers, the cow – provided that it is fully grown and not still a baby – will be the fastest animal on their land.
Can You Outrun a Cow?
Now that we know how fast a cow can run, let’s find out whether we are able to outrun one or if it can outrun us.
How fast a human can run depends on several factors, including age, gender and fitness, as well as things like the shoes worn, the weather, and the running surface.
If we were to take an average, though, we know that an adult man between the ages of 20 to 40 can run at 5.9 mph (9.5 kph) whereas an adult woman between the same age can run at 5.0 mph (8 kph). This is far slower than the average cow speed of 17 miles per hour (27 kph).
Okay, so a cow can comfortably outrun you and me and every other average human being. But what about professional athletes? What about the fastest man ever – Usain Bolt?
Well, it’s close. But if we’re talking about the maximum speed of both Usain Bolt and a cow, then the eight-time gold medallist just about manages to run faster than a cow.
During the 2009 IAAF World Championships in which he set the 100-meter world record at an astonishing 9.58 seconds, Usain Bolt reached a top speed of 27.78 mph (44.72km/h) in the 60-80m stretch, which is faster than the maximum speed of 25mph (40 kph) that a cow can run.
So while you can’t outrun a cow, the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, can.
How Far Can a Cow Travel in a Day?
Back in the 19th and early 20th century, cattle drives were a common occurrence to get cattle to market as quickly as possible.
Cattle would travel as far as 25 miles (40 km) a day, though they would also lose so much weight in the process that they would be harder to sell by the end of the journey. In order to maintain a healthy weight, cattle would usually travel a maximum of 15 miles (24 km) instead.
Today, cattle drives are unnecessary and a thing of the past, so there is no need for cows to travel such large distances.
Why Might a Cow Start Running?
Cows are generally docile animals, but just like other animals, a cow might start running when they are angered, startled, or feel threatened, especially if her young calves are nearby.
As we now know that you can’t outrun a cow, if you ever find a cow running towards you – whether that be a dairy cow or beef cow – try and make as much noise as possible and stand your ground. This is because a single cow is likely to be more scared of you than you are of her and will just run away.
If you find a herd or bull is running towards you, then try and get to the edge of the field and get something between you and the herd or the bull as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to make as much noise as you can too.