Thought Leadership

Can Cows Fly? FloEFD Investigates. Part 1 – Only in the Mooovies

By Robin Bornoff

It has been observed that cows tend to stand with their rumps facing the oncoming wind. There has been much debate (if you know where to look), stretching back almost weeks, as to why this might be. We’ll come back to this pressing question at the end of this blog series. In the mean time I’ll present some simulation studies performed by a colleague, Sergio Antioquia (bio at the end of this blog), that investigate the aerodynamic nature of cows, using FloEFD, our MCAD embedded highly automated CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software product.


CGI_COWCows haven’t evolved to fly. Quite the opposite. Actually the only people known to have witnessed flying cows have been Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. So what kind of wind forces must cows withstand as they munch away? What chance is there of them flying off Cow_purchasewhen the wind picks up? Sticking something in an oncoming air flow and simulating the resulting air flow and noting the cow’s integrated surface pressure distribution is a very straight forward with FloEFD.

The original CAD image of the cow that we used is shown here. Hardly distinguishable from real life, it’s no surprise that the web site I downloaded it from had this disclaimer!

Over the coming parts of this blog we’ll be using FloEFD’s unique octree splitting, polyhedral meshing system and its integral boundary layer approach to study lift and drag coefficients, the effect of the Beaufort Scale and how windy it will have to get for the cow to lift off!

For now, a sneak peek at FloEFD’s adaptive mesh refinement technology, mesh just where you need it, automatically:


and cow surface pressure distribution and 2D streamlines shown using arrows on a downstream plane:


More in Part 2 but if you want to learn about FloEFD’s meshing approach in the mean time, check out this 5 minute quick tips video.


Sergio Antioquia
Sergio Antioquia. Graduated as an Aerospace Engineer in Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in 2012, followed by an MSc in Cranfield University in 2013. That same year he joined Mentor Graphics as Customer Support Engineer for the CFD family. In his free time he enjoys cycling, cinema and origami.

17th September, Hampton Court (Sergio), Ross-on-Wye (Robin)

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at