Is It Impossible For Cows To Descend? What you need to know!

The cow was a very large animal that could barely see the ground in front of it. They’re a bit lacking in agility, and this is especially true when it comes to getting downhill. Stairs have been built for human use. They were designed for a typical 80 kilogram biped: a 1,000 kilogram four-legged cow. What’s more, there are no ladders in nature, meaning that the species did not evolve to manage them. With a lot of persuasion, guidance, and practice, some cows can make it down some shallow steps, so it’s not impossible for the cows to go down but it is very unusual and very unlikely.

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That cow

The weight and shape of a cow is determined by age, sex, race, and other factors. But a typical adult cow will weigh between 400 and 750 kilograms. They are also 95 inches long and as tall as a normal human. The average cow also has a shoulder width of 26 inches. They are very different sizes and are built for humans, which makes it very difficult for them to handle human-oriented staircase designs.

Kuroge Wagyu Cow


Stairs are used by, and therefore designed for, humans. They are made for the human dimension, and we weigh an average of 80 kilograms. Stairs have a tread, from front to back, of about 10 inches and each step has a height of about 7 inches. The slope of the stairs is about 35°. It is considered the perfect size for people to use. However, they are not suitable for cows. The stairs are steeper than any hill most cows have to climb. The stairs themselves are too narrow for the cows to fit comfortably.

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Can a Cow Go Down?

Obviously, stairs weren’t designed for use by cows, and they struggled with nearly every design element. But there is a video of a cow going down stairs, so even though it’s difficult, it can be done.

Can Cows Walk Up?

It is much easier for the cow to walk up than down. They can more easily see where they are walking which allows them to have a definite step ahead.

Can Cows Walk Backwards?

Usually, when given a choice, a cow will turn to walk forward, rather than backwards. However, he was able to walk backwards. It will do so carefully and slowly, to minimize the risk of injury and to prevent damage to itself. Also, while cows can run forwards and walk backwards, they cannot run backwards.

aubrac cow

Can Horses Go Down Stairs?

Despite having four legs and a physical shape similar to a cow, horses have legs that are more agile and flexible. They also carry less weight. As such, horses are capable of walking downstairs but, like cows, there is never a natural need for them to do so and it takes some coaxing and reassurance to get the horses down the stairs.

Can Elephants Go Down Stairs?

There are many reasons why an elephant would have trouble walking downstairs, and not much video evidence of them successfully doing so. An elephant’s leg can be 19 inches long, longer than an ordinary step, not to mention that an elephant can weigh around 5,000 kilograms, so only a concrete ladder is strong enough to support its weight.

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As a result of this incredible weight and size, elephants are not very agile and are unlikely to try and attempt to descend any ladder, although they will go up or down a step or two.

What Animal Can’t Go Down Stairs?

Nails are stiff, immobile, and slicker than feet, and are part of the reason why some animals will, at least, struggle to walk down stairs. So, animals with hooves struggle with ladders. This includes cows and, to a lesser extent, horses. This also includes goats, sheep, and deer. Of course, the animal that didn’t have legs couldn’t go down the stairs either, which meant an animal like a snake.


Is It Impossible For Cows To Descend?

While not completely impossible, it is highly unlikely that you will see a cow walking downstairs. They could barely see the floor in front of them when they were on level ground. They have poor depth perception, and the extremely heavy weight distribution means that they tend to fall forward when leaning at too steep an angle.

Stairs are a problem for most hoofed animals: horses are agile enough that they can manage stairs but would rather not. Goats, sheep, and other hoofed animals will not be able to get down to the bottom. This is not surprising because ladders have been designed for humans and there are no ladders in nature.

Featured Image Credit: Cameron Watson, Shutterstock