At the beginning of the novel, the animals become increasingly discontented due to Farmer Jones's drinking, which leads him to neglect them. Finally, the animals get hungry enough and angry enough to spontaneously rebel, driving Farmer Jones and his men off the farm.
As the animals expect, the humans fight back, and the animals name this fight The Battle of the Cowshed. The battle unfolds in an orderly way, for Snowball has studied the strategies of Julius Caesar in preparation. First, the birds, pigeons and geese, meet the advancing men with an attack, from the air and the ground, then Muriel and Benjamin kick the men while the sheep butt the men. At this point, however, the men are winning and the animals have to retreat. Nevertheless, Snowball is well prepared and uses pigs and horses to cut off the men from the rear. Snowball himself runs straight at Farmer Jones, who shoots at him with a gun, grazing him and killing a sheep. But Snowball is so heavy he knocks Farmer Jones down and the farmer's gun flies from his hand. Then Boxer springs into action, rearing and kicking. He kills a "stable lad" and at that point, the frightened humans flee, pursuing by biting, kicking animals. The animals are victorious and give the battle its name.