Can Cows Swim? Do Cows Like Water & Swimming?

can cows swim

There is a popular myth that cows cannot swim since they spend all day for grazing and lying. Plus, they are big and lumbering, thus it seems counterintuitive if they are able to swim. But in fact, can Cows swim?

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Can cows swim?

Cows can swim, and they are indeed strong swimmers. 

Humans are not really designed for swimming. We are bipedal thus do not use our arms for locomotion. On the other hand, swimming comes naturally to cows as the way they swim is a modified version of the way they run. Cows can easily use all their limbs to swim whereas maintaining an upright position with the head naturally keeping above water.

Furthermore, the swimming forms of cows guarantee that their bodies are parallel to the water surface in order to diminish any drag that may allow them to keep on breathing.

Thanks to these skills, cows can swim long distances without being exhausting. Although they can swim and float for several miles, tired cows do drown.

But, do cows like water and swimming?

It is believed that cows have evolved in environments which have a lot of water source. Cows can swim across bodies of water as part of usual farming practices. They have a natural ability to tread water and can do so since they were born.

At first, the cows may have an intense fear and phobia of water, but they will gradually get used to the situation of being in water and swimming.

Many cows enjoy wading in water to shed body heat and avoid biting insects. However, they only naturally swim when they have a particular destination to reach.

There are some types of cows that spend a great deal of time in the water. Therefore, they have a set of bighorns that used to tip their head backward to prevent their nose from getting water inside.

Speaking of water, check out our review of the Best Cattle Waterers on the market today!

So, how far can a cow swim?

Cows are known to be able to swim over long distances. They can normally make roughly from several meters to even a thousand meters trek without difficulty to search for better grazing lands. Then, how far this animal can travel will primarily depend on the current strength and the experience of the cow.

A herd of cattle lives on the Crom Estate have completed their unconventional journey by swimming 328 feet (about 100m) across the river. During the summer months, they are encouraged to make the crossing to switch pastures or grazing areas.

As cows are accomplished swimmers, they are capable to survive by swimming in a heavy downpour, flood, or hurricane. In 2019, Cape Lookout National Seashore has discovered three cows are grazing peacefully together in the national park. People believed that they probably originated from the mainland and got there by swimming four to five miles out to the island during Hurricane Dorian.

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How to help the cows swim safely?

These days, the idea of practicing cows swimming across the streams, lakes, and rivers in search of fresher pastures for farmers is not very common. Consequently, farmers need to learn some guidelines to help their cows swim across the body of water safely:

1. Go first along the route

Getting the herd of cows across the rivers or lakes may be challenging at times, especially if you do not know how to manage it. If the cow leader gets first into the water, the herd will automatically follow.

2. Cut off a small bunch of stock

If they ignore following the leader, it is essential to cut them off a small herd and hold them together. Then you need to charge the herd into the water before they have time to turn back. As soon as they have entered the river, another bunch is shoved behind so they can follow the ones that already in the water.

If the cattle are hungry and dry, they are easier to get inside the water and across.

3. Stay Downstream

The leaders on the opposite side can be used as bait to appeal the others to cross. This method is used when you need to force the cattle across in small bunches.

Read more: What do Cows like to eat?


In addition to contributing to the survival of mankind, cows are able to perform some tasks that we as humans could not do, like having the natural ability or instinct to swim. I hope that the article provided some useful information about cows swimming as well as interesting facts about them.

One thought on “Can Cows Swim? Do Cows Like Water & Swimming?

  1. Rafid munir says:

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