Knickers the Giant Steer saved by his size from the abattoir

The New York Times—and, indeed, the entire Internet—is buzzing with the story of Knickers the Giant Steer, who lives in Australia. He’s not just big; he’s HUGE!

From the Times:

It’s a very big steer.

The very big steer is, according to the nearly unanimous acclaim on social media, a hero. At 6 feet 4 inches tall and more than 1.4 tons (2,800 pounds), it is roughly the height of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson but weighs about 11 times as much.

Its enormous size — just three inches short of the Guinness World Record for tallest living steer — saved it from certain death, its owner said. No one bought it for slaughter at an auction last month because potential buyers said it wouldn’t fit in their farm equipment.

“He was always a standout steer,” said Geoff Pearson, who owns thousands of cattle in Myalup, a small town south of Perth in Western Australia.

. . . Knickers drew worldwide adoration after local news reports ignited coverage of him internationally, and his image saturated social media on Tuesday.

Get a load of this guy.

There was something familiar about him. Knickers is that guy who stands in front of you at every concert.

There was something relatable about him. Knickers looks the way you feel when you don’t know anyone at a party.

And there was something inspiring about him. Cattle don’t typically have much control over their fate. Knickers beat the system.

. . . His reward for escaping the literal chopping block will be a life of coaching other animals on how to live their lives at the farm, Mr. Pearson said. The other animals have taken to him.

Mature steer of his breed typically stand 4 feet 10 inches tall and weigh about 1,500 pounds, according to the Cattle Site.

Here’s Knickers, whose size is exaggerated a bit as he’s surrounded by small wagyu cows. But even so. . . . .

Here’s a video:

Now some people are (excuse the pun) beefing because there aren’t any photos in which Knickers is standing right next to a person, so you can get a good idea of his height. Let’s just say that if 6 foot 4 is his shoulder height, he’d be six eight inches taller than I if I were standing beside him. And that’s big!

If you want to see the record holder, here it is, certified by Guinness:

“The tallest ox is Bellino, a chianina ox who measured 2.027 m (6 ft 7 in) to the withers. He is owned by Giuseppe Sola (Italy) and was measured on the set of Lo Show dei Record in Rome, Italy, on 27 March 2010. An ox is an adult, castrated male bovine.”


  1. rickflick
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I suspect he’d be a little hard to handle. Maybe they don’t handle him at all. There was a large wild form of cattle, the Aurochs, that inhabited Europe. It is believed to be the source of the domesticated cattle of today. They are depicted in cave paintings. The Aurocks went extinct in 1627.

    • Nicholas K.
      Posted November 28, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      If I recall correctly, a full-grown bull auroch could reach nearly 12 feet high at the shoulder. It was a brave person indeed who first tried to domesticate one of those!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        I doubt there was ever a nearly 12′ bull auroch – that’s approaching 3.6 metres. Perhaps that includes horns rather than a measure to the shoulders as is the standard. Perhaps a wild estimated calculation based on the length of a femur. Or perhaps folklore writings?

        I believe a complete auroch skeleton was dug out of a peat bog & put at two metres to the withers [6 ft 6 inches or so], but the reconstruction is thought to be inaccurate – adding height.

        Using skeletal material [especially the data given for bulls] ranging from 145 cm to 200 cm [71 inches]. Cis van Vuure summed up all credible measurements of aurochs shoulder heights and concluded that the average for Holocene auroch bulls was 160-180 cm and cows 150 cm.

        MY SOURCE

        • rickflick
          Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          It’s a bit hard to think they could be domesticated becoming modern cattle, which apparently they were, if they were actually 3.6m .

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

            There is possibly various species of aurochs, but also there’s stuff like this:

            those animals which are called uri. These are a little below the elephant in size, and of the appearance, colour, and shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary; they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them. The young men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice themselves in this sort of hunting, and those who have slain the greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public, to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tamed. The size, shape, and appearance of their horns differ much from the horns of our oxen. These they anxiously seek after, and bind at the tips with silver, and use as cups at their most sumptuous entertainments.
            — Julius Caesar. Gallic War Commentaries, Chapter 6.28

            Trump would be proud.

            • rickflick
              Posted November 28, 2018 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

              Quite and account. So, maybe that was not the type that became our familiar cattle. The last of them died in Poland in 1627. A pity. Now, with modern genetic techniques, it might be possible to resurrect the species. If good samples of DNA can be found, and why not? The site you mentioned has some comment on the possibility, but I haven’t read it.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted November 28, 2018 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

                According to polyaenus [or Polyainos] a 2nd-century Macedonian, Caesar used one elephant in the invasion of Britain: “Caesar had one large elephant, which was equipped with armour and carried archers and slingers in its tower. When this unknown creature entered the river, the Britons and their horses fled and the Roman army crossed over”

                I’m wondering if Caesar liked to spin a yarn & gave the aurochs a generous almost elephantine dimension – impress the ladies with his accomplishments. 🙂

                War stories

              • rickflick
                Posted November 29, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

                Maybe Trump is a descendant. That would account for some of the wide margins of error.

            • pierluigi Ballabeni
              Posted November 29, 2018 at 1:54 am | Permalink

              Various species, or, from what I read I do not remember where and when, a possible confusion with the bison, Bison bonasus.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 29, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        You didn’t try to domesticate the adults. You killed the adults and tried to domesticate the calf lowing beside the body of it’s dam as you butchered her. You’d need to time it right – to get the calf at the age where it’s already partly weaned, but still sufficiently dependent to stay with the body once you’ve incapacitated her (my target would be a spear puncturing the lungs, so they suffocate) and are driving the rest of the herd away. Then you apply the next filter – of not bolting at contact with humans – by approaching the calf.
        Domestication was not a nice process, and failed experiments went into the cooking pot.

        • Posted November 29, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          And even with the fully domesticated breeds, I don’t want to be around any intact males!

  2. Christopher
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Its nice to see some good news once in a while, and it’s nice to see people stopping to notice animals we often ignore. Bovinae are beautiful!

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    No one bought it for slaughter at an auction last month because potential buyers said it wouldn’t fit in their farm equipment.

    Well, part of it fit into someone’s farm equipment one time.

    Reminds me of when I was dating a girl from Iowa and we went back there to visit her folks on the family farm. Her dad took me out to show me around the spread and, while we were in the barn, pointed out the contraption by which his daughter used to help him make steers outta wannabe bulls.

    Thinking about that little show’n’tell still makes me queasy.

    • Posted November 28, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Yowsa! How did the date go after that? Did you experience “lack of focus”?

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Ha! I thought someone would ask if Ken had a ball (or two).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        “Happens to every guy sometimes.”

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted November 29, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          Old song:
          “These two bricks and mortar /
          Will teach you not to shag my daughter”

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Possibly they have some extra large Jackaroos down there as well.

  5. JezGrove
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    “The internet: Here’s a really big cow”. My daughter was really embarrassed when she found out that (individual) cows are always female and that there aren’t “boy cows” and “girl cows”. Indeed, the existence of “boy cows” is , err, total “bull”, as they say. Although she could, perhaps, be forgiven after the animated movie Barnyard portrayed all of the male bovine characters with udders – including the mobster “Jersey Boys”!

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Knickers it out of the park.

  7. Frank Bath
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Knickers is a very odd name, it’s British English for US panties.

  8. Christopher
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    For anyone who is interested in more big cattle, search for Belgian Blue and be prepared to pick your chin up off the floor. They are spectacular.

  9. Posted November 28, 2018 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    There isn’t anyone who’s going to tip that cow.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 29, 2018 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      And “steer”.
      But … very definitely.

  10. Ken
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    The Washington Post is throwing a little cold water on the story, saying that the steer is only slightly larger than average for that breed of male.

    But it still looks impressive, regardless.

  11. pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted November 29, 2018 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    The chianina race is used to produce the “bistecca fiorentina”, a steak that normally weighs around 1 kg. The most famous product of the florentine cuisine together with the tripes.

  12. Posted November 29, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m way off base, however when things both human and animal grow to excessively large proportions, it has something to do with Gigantism and or Acromegaly which is a malfunction of the Pituitary Gland in the brain! Human example:

    • Posted December 4, 2018 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Up to comment ten. He’s this big because 1) his breed is big and 2) he’s old for a steer, at least according to the article. I was going to post it here if it hadn’t already been posted but it does throw a heaping bunch of cold water on the whole thing.

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