Suggestions to improve footpath safety

Cindy recently told us her story following a cattle attack:  Surrounded and trampled by cows. She offers some further thoughts and suggestions below. 


A friend sent me the link to your site and I submitted my story as a way of ‘letting off steam’ as I felt aggrieved, and I am very happy that my story is used on your site.

I have been appalled to discover the number of attacks that have occurred over the years. I was utterly amazed at the number of cow attacks (as opposed to bulls who actually carry the stigma) once I started googling the subject, and quite a few people I have spoken to have been able to relate experiences of ‘close shaves’.

Having been a member of a farming family all my life, I was totally unaware of these things happening.

But I am on both sides of the fence here (excuse the pun!). We have a family farm and have had a dairy herd in the past and now have a suckler herd. I appreciate the difficulties that the farmer is under to make a living. I am not sure that there is one single solution, and another raft of complicated ‘tick box’ regulation would not be that helpful. There needs to be a common sense approach.

A temporary path diversion might help farmers manage their cattle in a safer way Divert Footpaths

I would favour having some footpaths moved so that they don’t have to cross large open fields at all.

Or, at least, allow farmers to temporarily divert the paths, with the minimum of hassle, to permit the walker to avoid their cattle for the time they are grazing that field.

One rogue cow can turn a herd of cattle into killer cowsEliminate rogue cows

As farmers, we know our own cattle. From our experience as farmers, there is often a bad’un in a herd and she is a catalyst for the others. I suspect that this was the case when I was attacked, when one cow seemed to start the attack.

My brother makes a point of getting rid of anything that causes trouble (either with him or within the herd) so maybe that has unwittingly been one of our solutions.

Is overbreeding resulting in killer cattleConsider dangers of breeding pedigree cattle

Although Red Devon cattle are supposed to be placid and tolerant, the few that we had were nicknamed the ‘Red Devils’, and needless to say they didn’t stay long with us. That seems to be the general feeling about them in our own particular area.

Perhaps there is a quirk in the breeding that is appearing? The herd that attacked me was supposedly pedigree, and there could be the aspect of too much ‘fine tuning’ – leading to the breeding of animals that are highly strung.


We are grateful to Cindy for sharing her story and her thoughts with us. It’s helpful to have the comments of someone who is not only a victim, but is also experienced in cattle farming.

Other ideas, comments and suggestions are welcome. Please comment below.

2 thoughts on “Suggestions to improve footpath safety

Add yours

  1. Years ago I was in a large field, rising to my right. I heard this noise. Then saw one of the long bodied bulls with short legs charging me at full speed. These things are not known for their intelligence and the only way out of the field was on the right side of it. So I waited until the bull was about 7 feet away and jumped to the left. He curved that way, missing me and took about 100 feet or so to stop. By then I was over the fence and watched the silly thing look around and then start eating grass….works every time (except in Spain).

    That field belongs to the cows – It’s their field and we are interlopers. All part of the package.

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    1. You were lucky to dodge the bull. Lucky you didn’t have a child with you, or an elderly relative, or a nervous dog. I don’t agree that the fields belong to the cows. Where there is a public right of way crossing the field, we have a legal right walk along that path. Public footpaths and public bridleways are ancient tracks which people have walked for hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of years. They belong to all of us, and not to the cattle.

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