Take care around cows

Posted by Cath Flitcroft on 05/06/2013

Each year there are reports of unfortunate cases where people have been attacked, or even trampled to death, by cows whilst out walking or approaching crags. Make sure this doesn't happen to you.

Most members of the public are wary of bulls, but few realise that cows, particularly those protecting newly-born calves, can also be dangerous. So what should you do?

In reported cases, the cows are thought to have been trying to drive off the dogs in order to protect their young. Here is an example in a local newspaper

While such attacks are relatively rare, Health and Safety Executive figures show that over 481 people have been injured by cows in the past eight years.

The countryside is a great place to exercise dogs, but it’s every owner’s duty to make sure their dog is not a danger or nuisance to farm animals, wildlife or other people.

By law, farmers are entitled to destroy a dog that injures or worries their animals, therefore dog walkers should keep their dogs on their lead at any time of the year when near farm animals, particularly during lambing times. However, it’s really important to be aware that there will circumstances when this could prove to be the wrong advice.

Keep calm, carry on……
If you find yourself in a field of suddenly wary cattle, move away as carefully and quietly as possible, and if you feel threatened by cattle then let go of your dog’s lead and let it run free rather than try to protect it and endanger yourself. The dog will outrun the cows and it will outrun you.

Those without canine companions should follow similar advice: move away calmly, do not panic and make no sudden noises. Chances are the cows will leave you alone once they establish that you pose no threat.

If you walk through a field of cows and there happen to be calves, think twice; if you can, go another way and avoid crossing fields.

Bulls and Public Rights of Way

It is an offence to allow a bull over 10 months old and on its own to be at large in a field crossed by a public right of way. It is also an offence to keep a bull of a recognised dairy breed (even if accompanied by cows/heifers) on land crossed by a public right of way.

The exceptions are bulls not more than 10 months old, or bulls which are not of a recognised dairy breed (currently defined as Ayrshire, British Friesian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry) and are accompanied by cows and heifers. In practice, it may be difficult for a user to know whether bulls will be likely to be dangerous or not, and farmers should, wherever possible, not keep bulls in fields crossed by rights of way.

The Health and Safety Executive recommends that signs should be displayed at each access point, noting that a bull is in the field. The above advice applies to those walking through a field which contains a bull.

The Countryside Code states that:

  • By law, you must keep your dog under effective control so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. On most areas of open country and common land, known as 'access land' you must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July, and all year round near farm animals.
  • You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths, as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. By law, farmers are entitled to destroy a dog that injures or worries their animals.
  • If a farm animal chases you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it.
  • Take particular care that your dog doesn’t scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife – eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.
  • Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections – so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly. Also make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.
  • At certain times, dogs may not be allowed on some areas of access land or may need to be kept on a lead. Please follow any signs.

BBC report that includes advice from the National Farmers Union (NFU). 

You can also find out more by phoning the Open Access Contact Centre on 0845 100 3298.


 


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1) Anonymous User
25/05/2012
I got attacked by a Cow 3 years ago, on a regularly used footpath in The Peak District. It headbutted me to the ground, then continued to kick and stamp on me. If my husband hadn't kept kicking it in the head I don;t think I would have survived the attack. As it was I sustained several broken ribs and shoulder blade. Yes there were calves in the field but I didn't have a dog. I don't know why it decided I was a threat and I have walked through this field many many times without incident. Apparently it attacked two other people the same day. The farmer removed it from the field, but it was a very scary moment and has left me very cautious and nervous when walking through fields with any cattle in.
2) Anonymous User
14/06/2012
Steve G
Turned a corner in an L shaped field, SUDDENLY faced with about 8 or 10 cows with calfs!! My wife and I had our (V well behaved) dog with us. Cows etc moved out then back in behind us. I walked backwards waving walking poles outstretched. They held back, then charged around me towards my wife (5-10 yds) further down field. Told dog to go..who needed no second command, couldn't get under/ over gate or wall so got cornered, About 2 mins (2 hrs?) of dog being tried to be head-butted/trampled.. dog 'broke free' and ran.... again was chased as we made for the gate (200yds away). Opened gate and called dog who circled and got back to us (unharmed but shaken). Cattle still at gate 5 MINUTES LATER making noises. Did wonder if gate would hold!! ...it did :-)
Scarey times. NO WARNING SIGNS OF ANY KIND POSTED ANYWHERE!
Am looking at how to report (Police or HSE?).
This was UP from Craven Arms, Appletreewick Yorshire (google maps).
3) Anonymous User
13/08/2012
I was chased by a herd of cows whenwalking through a feild in englefeild green it was a well known walking route and lead onto a forest i was moving slowly as realised by the cows reaction to me especially one particular much bigger cow i stood still i toke literally one step forward and charge and some other cows followed it at first they seemed miles away soon they moved till meters away from me they move impressively fast I had literally frozen even my legs were shaking with fear all the gfences were heavily barred wired and i was scared of cutting myself on them if i jumped over finally in literally before i could of been trampled i had a brain surge so i took of my jumper put it on the barred wire i fell ungracefully to the ground i had a few cuts bruises but luckily nothing serious i spent the next hour hysterrically crying i have never been so terrified by an animal before in my life.
4) Anonymous User
23/07/2013
Also chased by cattle crossing a field on a public bridleway on Dartmoor. No dog. Cattle tried to surround and follow then charged. Stood my ground waved arms in the air and they stopped about 5 meters short of me.
If my arms went down they moved forward. I was able to back away slowly always waving arms until I reached a distance where they lost sight or interest. Slowly worked along a hedge to a gate to escape the field.
I feel certain if I would have ran or continued to walk away I would have been trampled. There needs to be some control and we must stop implying this only occurs if persons are with dogs or young.
5) Anonymous User
12/09/2013
I went on a walk today alone through a public walkway and entered one field with cows, I moved slowly and was fine, entered another field with yet more cows & thought as before I'd be okay esp as some walkers past me so had ovb come that way and been okay.
The cows were on the other side so I slowly made my way across and then noticed the cows were heading towards me, around 15 or so & I panicked so tried walking a tad faster and suddenly they started running to me & I have to admit I was scared (no calves that I could see) I stopped and faced them and put my arms out and stupidly chatted to them but it worked & they stopped but as I moved away again they followed me into another field and started mking noises think they were getting annoyed and 3 were right behind me bt luckily I climbed a gage and got out! Very scared and not what I expected from a public walkway!
6) Anonymous User
05/11/2013
Walked through a field of cows today, shortly before dusk (1630). The path is part of the Monarch's Way, and this field is just south of Ilchester in Somerset. Before I entered the field the cows (about 40-50) had come up to the bridge I was using to enter the field. They looked quite menacing, but according to my map there wasn't another obvious way to get where I wanted to go, and there are several streams about, requiring bridges to cross. I decided to go through the cows but it was way scary. First of all I went to the right of them, through the middle of the field, aiming for a bridge on the other side. After I got past them they began to move and make bad noises. Then they ran around me, and away. I thought that was the end of it, but I then stupidly walked between the herd and what looked like an older calf which had not joined the rest of them in approaching me the first time. When I was directly between the herd and the young lone adult (yearling?), they began to charge me again. My solution was to appear threatening towards them, turning to face them, lifting my arms, stepping towards them and shouting a little bit. This spooked them enough to turn away, but they kept coming until I got to the other bridge. After that they ran away.

I learnt to do this, and not be afraid of charging cattle when we had a barbecue on Leaze's Moor in Newcastle. The cows there charged us, but my friend who grew up in the Cumbrian countryside knew to charge them back, as I did. It seems to work, but it's well scary. Who needs rollercoasters and bungee-jumping for an adrenalin rush? Just go for a walk through a cow field.
7) Anonymous User
21/04/2014
Just got chased by 7 cows! Was out jogging across a couple of fields near my house, have done so many times before and never had any problems, I always give the cows a wide berth. This time they actually followed behind me as I jogged, I thought they were just being curious. As I reached the starting point and turned to do a second lap, the cows basically tried to surround me and cut me off. I attempted to bypass them but then they charged - literally got chased all the way across two large fields, running as fast as I could! They never let up, managed to finally escape the fields by hopping a fence. The cows arrived shortly behind me and then just stood there at the fence. Waiting....and watching... Never thought a 'moo' could sound so sinister. I wanna go get a Big Mac or something as a means of revenge.
8) Anonymous User
21/04/2014
Just got chased by 7 cows! Was out jogging across a couple of fields near my house, have done so many times before and never had any problems, I always give the cows a wide berth. This time they actually followed behind me as I jogged, I thought they were just being curious. As I reached the starting point and turned to do a second lap, the cows basically tried to surround me and cut me off. I attempted to bypass them but then they charged - literally got chased all the way across two large fields, running as fast as I could! They never let up, managed to finally escape the fields by hopping a fence. The cows arrived shortly behind me and then just stood there at the fence. Waiting....and watching... Never thought a 'moo' could sound so sinister. I wanna go get a Big Mac or something as a means of revenge.

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