Not a phrase you hear often, but I came across it in the syllabus for Hornsby v. Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 758 P.2d 929 (Utah App. 1988): “Motorcyclist sued church and farm workers for injuries sustained when motorcyclist attempted to avoid collision on a public highway with a church-owned cow.” But, hey, why shouldn’t a church own a cow?
The only other use of the phrase in Westlaw-accessible cases is in a later case’s discussion of Hornsby; a Google search found no results (though of course now there will be some), and a Google Books search found only the reporter volume that contains Hornsby.
UPDATE: Mark N. points out that this article mentions “church-owned cows.” Better yet, it also speaks of a “cow-lending project”: “A local cow-lending project loans church-owned cows to believers, who can breed the cow three times. They can keep the second and third-born calves, but the first-born calf and the cow are returned to the project to enable another family to reap the same benefits.” A much better use for church-owned cows, I think, than providing obstacles for innocent motorcyclists.
FURTHER UPDATE: More on the history of church-owned cows, from Nate Oman at Concurring Opinions.