Wyoming Ranchers Say Knickers, The Humungous Holstein, Has Nothing On Cowboy State Cattle

A humongous Holstein named Knickers stands head and shoulders above the rest of his herd at his home in western Australia. Cattle growers in the Cowboy State say that while the steer is impressive, Wyoming’s home-grown cattle have an edge.

Greg Johnson

March 15, 20233 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

No, the photo is not doctored. This Australian steer that stands out in a crowd really is that huge. 

Knickers, a 2,800-pound Holstein-Friesian, stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs about 1.4 tons – too large to fit into any farm equipment, which actually saved his life. 

That’s because Knickers is too big to transport to the slaughterhouse, which wouldn’t have been able to accommodate his bulk anyway, said his owner, Goeff Pearson of Lake Preston, Western Australia.

In 2018, when an Australian news crew visited Knickers at Pearson’s farm, the internet became enamored with the gentle giant. His notoriety has since grown nearly as large, with media outlets around the world “weighing in” with creative headlines to describe the beefy bovine. Some are better than others, like:

• “Monster Moo”

• “Giant Steer Causes Cow-troversy”

• “Holy Cow!”

• “Behemoth Bovine”

But most of the memes and headlines, as clever as they are, have it wrong. Knickers isn’t a cow, he’s a steer – a male that has been castrated at a young age. 

Towers Over His Friends

Knickers is only slightly larger than the average full-grown Holstein, which usually grow to just under 6 feet in height. But because of a difference in breeds, he towers over his pasture-mates, which are wagyu cattle and usually top out around 4.5 feet.

Additionally, at the time the famous video was taken, Knickers was 7 years old and his smaller buddies were only around a year old.

Although the video’s placement of Knickers with his wagyu friends emphasized his bulk, there’s no doubt that the sizable steer is still large for his breed. At the time, Knickers was just 3 inches shy of the being the tallest living steer, as chronicled by Guinness World Records.

Does Size Really Matter?

But size isn’t everything.

Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, told Cowboy State Daily that in this case, bigger is not better – except to gather worldwide publicity.

“Wyoming strives for cattle that are most efficient on our rangelands,” Magagna said. “For that reason, many Wyoming ranchers have, through selective breeding, reduced the size of their cattle over the past 20 years.”

Dennis Sun, publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, expressed his admiration for the giant bovine.

“In the U.S., Holstein dairy cows have some of the best genetics around,” he said. “There are some cows in Europe that are really big, but this steer wins the prize. He must have great care.” 

But Magagna boasted that should it come down to a contest, he’d put Wyoming cattle up against the humongous Holstein any day.

“I have no doubt that, when it comes to steers, whatever Australia can do, Wyoming can do better,” he said.

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Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.