An old wives’ tale states that looking at a cow pasture can help you predict an oncoming rainstorm; if all the cows are lying down, it means it’s about to rain! But is there a scientific basis for this claim?

Cows lay down for a multitude of reasons, but there’s no empirical evidence that an oncoming rainstorm is one of them. The Farmer’s Almanac states that cows are more likely to lay down when they’re chewing their cud rather than preparing for a storm.

Still, where does this myth come from? Even the most fantastical of claims have some purported basis that they use to justify their beliefs. Some of them are more reasonable than others, but let’s explore them.

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The 3 Reasons This Myth Exists

They Are Keeping the Grass Dry

The simplest explanation we could find for this wives’ tale is that cows can sense the increased moisture in the air and the change in the barometric pressure. Then they lay down in the grass to keep it dry so that they have a comfortable place to lay down.

cow lying on grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

Their Stomachs Are Sensitive to Barometric Pressure

Another explanation claims that a cow’s stomachs are sensitive to barometric pressure, and the change when it rains upsets their stomachs. This theory posits that they lay down to ease their upset stomachs, much like humans do when they have a stomachache.

Cow Legs Are Porous

Perhaps on the ridiculous side, this “theory” posits that a cow’s legs are microporous and absorb moisture from the air. According to this “theory,” a cow’s legs absorb so much moisture from the air in the time before a rainstorm that they become soft and can no longer support the cow’s body weight.

Related Read: 8 Fluffy, Long-Haired Cow Breeds: An Overview (with Pictures)

group of cows in grassland
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Is There Any Basis for These Claims?

No. There is no scientific evidence supporting any of the above claims. Cows lay down for various reasons, and there’s no scientific evidence that rain is one of them. If this tall tale were accurate, the weather would be pretty bad all the time!

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels