Knickers the Australian steer and other massive cattle

November 30, 2018

You may have heard about Knickers, an enormous Australian steer who made headlines this week after it was reported that he was simply too big for the butcher shop. But did you know Knickers isn’t the largest steer in the world?

Standing at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing about 1.4 tons, Knickers is a Holstein Friesian who lives with a herd of much smaller wagyu cattle in Western Australia. His owner, Geoff Pearson, tried to sell him, but he was too hefty for the abattoir.

“He’s too big for the chain, he’s out of spec,” Pearson told The Guardian. “He’d be too heavy for the machines and he’d probably actually be hanging on the floor, so there would be contamination issues, and his cuts of meat would be too large.”

Other large cows

While Knickers might be unusually big, he’s not necessarily a freak of nature.

“I am not sure he is so much a freak as just a tall Holstein,” UC Davis Animal Science professor Alison Van Eenennaam told The Verge. She brought up one of the largest cattle breeds in existence, the Chianina. “Mature bulls stand up to 1.8 meters (5 feet, 11 inches) and steers may reach 2 meters (6 feet, 7 inches).”

A Chianina has the world record for largest steer on earth. Bellino, who lives in Italy, towers at 6 feet, 7 inches.

Dozer, a 6 foot, 5 inch-tall steer who lives in Canada, has just an inch on Knickers. His owner didn’t even realize how tall Dozer was until, inspired by news stories about the Australian steer, he decided to break out the measuring tape.

Earlier this year, a 6 foot, 4 inch Holstein steer named Danniel died in California. He reportedly consumed 100 pounds of hay, 15 pounds of grain and 100 gallons of water a day. Another famous Holstein, named Blossom, also measured about 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

Gaurs, a species of wild cattle from India, commonly reach at least six feet tall. Aurochs, an extinct species that is the ancestor of many modern domestic cattle, could easily become just as big. Other large breeds include South Devon cattle, Maine-Anjous and Glans.

What’s next for Knickers

Since Knickers isn’t going to become a burger, he instead will be living his best life on a 3,000 acre farm acting as a “coach” to other cattle.

“Whenever he wants to get up and start walking, there’s a trail of hundreds of cattle following him,” Pearson said. “We all know when Knickers is on the move.”


Category: Animal Safety