How High Can a Cow Jump and Could They Jump a Fence?

As any dairy farmer or cattle farmer will tell you, watching your cows get out in the Spring after a long winter is a joy to see!

Watching them run and jump around the field, their excitement was contagious!

Logistically, though, you might have some concerns when your cows get worked up enough to start jumping around.

Some cows can jump up to 5′ feet in the air, which is easily high enough to clear a simple wire fence. This isn’t normally a big concern, though, because these heavy animals don’t make such impressive jumps often. You only need to worry about them jumping the fence when they are especially startled or excited.

Beyond the potential for fence-jumping, cattle face health and safety risks when they jump. 

This makes it all the more important to take preventative measures.

So, read on for tips on keeping your cows calm and ensuring they don’t make it over your fences.

how high can a cow jump

Is Your Herd Likely to Jump Your Fencing?

So, we know cows can leap up to 5’-foot heights. 

But we also know they aren’t exactly prone to making those jumps.

Cows tend to move like this only when they:

  • Are extremely excited
  • Get badly startled
  • Have a skittish or stubborn personality


As I mentioned at the start of this article, it’s fun watching your cows romp around when they get excited!

This is also when they aren’t as likely to bust down the fencing you’ve set up, provided you’ve given them enough space for your entire herd to move freely.

Still, you must ensure you’ve taken some precautions to reduce problems.


If you keep just a few cows and your farm is relatively isolated, you aren’t as likely to have issues with the herd getting startled.

But when I was a kid, we had problems with this a little more often than we would have liked. 

Cows are prey animals, and they are sometimes very easy to scare.

This is especially true if they are new to your farm, as this means they haven’t had time to adjust to their physical environment or the people and other animals around them.

Add a sudden, loud noise, an overeager onlooker, or even sudden movements, and it’s easy to end up with an overactive, scared cow.

Skittish and Stubborn Animals

As with other farmyard animals, cow owners can breed for certain traits in their herd. 

For example, Jersey cows are not very excitable and very gentle around people.

Each cow has their own quirks, though. 

So, it’s always good to prepare for the worst.

Extremely strong-headed animals with bad temperaments tend to cause big problems on the farm.

Not only are they more likely to get into trouble, but they also negatively affect the energy in the barn or pasture.

This often leads to the rest of the herd being ill at ease, skittish, and behaving differently than usual.

While skittish animals are more easily startled, bad-tempered animals don’t necessarily need any kind of trigger to jump over or take down a fence.

Dangers of Jumping Cows

Now you know when to expect behaviors like leaping and running in your cattle.

So, it’s time to consider why these actions are dangerous.

For one thing, cow hooves and legs are the most frequently injured parts of their bodies.

These are large animals, and it’s hard on their legs when they jump.

Furthermore, your cows are not guaranteed to clear the fence if they attempt to get over it.

Cows more often tear down large areas of the fence in their efforts to escape. 

This is because they usually feel frantic, scared, or otherwise overwhelmed when they behave this way. 

They aren’t calculating how best to get over the fence!

Even if they don’t take the fence down, it’s very frustrating when your cows get out of their pasture.

Related Reading: How to keep cows away from food and bushes

Preventing Cows From Jumping Over Fences

There are two main areas to focus your attention on here:

  • Training your animals with electric fencing
  • Keeping your herd as calm as possible


As with other animals, there is a range of options for cattle fencing.

Electric fence systems are our recommendation for your cattle’s fencing type.

The standard is to use 4-4.5′ foot fences for your cattle.

While cows can technically jump higher than this, most won’t attempt such a feat, especially if you do a good job with your fencing.

However, electric fence training isn’t as simple as placing the fence and moving on.

Part of your fencing process should include tying a colorful ribbon onto the fencing wire at various intervals.

This helps your cows recognize where the wire is.

Your cows will probably take an interest in the ribbon when they first go out to pasture. 

But they will be nipped by the fence if they decide to explore.

It won’t hurt them badly, just enough to tell them not to cross the fence.

Related: How many joules on an electric fence do you need for cattle?

Keeping a Happy Herd

We also recommend you simultaneously put older, more trusted animals as your newer, more skittish cows.

These more experienced animals will be an example to the younger ones on how to behave while out to pasture.

Their assuredness will put your other animals more at ease as well.

To avoid startling responses, ensure that anyone around your herd knows how to handle cows.

You don’t want anybody yelling, waving, or running at them.

Are Cows Good Jumpers?

When people close their eyes and imagine cows, jumping isn’t something likely to come to mind, but it’s not that uncommon.

In England, there was even a famous case of an extremely active bovine making a 6′-foot leap to land on the roof of a low house!

But while such impressive hops are possible, most folks will never see this.

Some cattle ranchers swear by jumping as a sign of a happy herd.

Happy cows make happy jumps!

Though, as we covered above, this isn’t always the case.

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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