Two reasons why we don’t believe the official stats on cattle attacks.

When it comes to talking about the risk of being injured by cattle, the official line in the UK is that the risk is very low.

We don’t believe this.

The official statistics don’t give us the full picture. In fact, they probably represent only the tip of the iceberg. Here are two reasons why.

Firstly: the agencies that could be collecting this information are not doing it in a comprehensive or reliable manner.

  • The Health and Safety Executive should be the collecting statistics on cattle injuries, but we know they can only record those few incidents that are actually reported to them, and then only those that they consider worthy of further investigation. These will include all deaths, and probably many of the more serious injuries, but certainly not all. Sadly, that rules out many minor injuries or ‘near misses’.
  • The Ramblers have a reporting tool, Pathwatch, which is available both as an online form and as an App. Pathwatch is primarily designed for recording obstructions to public footpaths, and does allow recording of intimidating experiences with bulls or cows. Unfortunately, Pathwatch asks for minimal data, and all a walker can do is report the path as being either ‘inconvenient’ or ‘unusable’. There is no opportunity to record details, or to mention injuries, or to describe a serious scare.
  • Local authorities might collect information, but this will depend on the local authorities procedures and protocols. Not many walkers would bother to report a cattle incident to their local authority, and most authorities would expect the Health and Safety Executive to collect this information anyway.
  • NHS Hospitals collect information on those patients they treat, but the current clinical coding system does not specifically code for cattle injuries. There is no reliable way of extracting this information across the country.

Secondly, we believe most member of the public don’t report minor injuries or ‘near misses’. The route for making such reports is unclear, and people aren’t encouraged to tell their stories.

So, we have very good reason to believe that many (or most) injuries go unreported and the scale of the problem is not recognised. As long as cattle incidents are considered rare, there seems little incentive to tighten up the guidance and the regulations.

We created this website to try to change that situation.

We believe cattle incidents are common, and far more could be done to improve the safety of walkers.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured or scared by cattle, please consider using our Report an Incident form to record your experiences.

For a detailed exploration of the statistics around deaths caused by cattle, read Cattle attack statistics: an alternative view


2 thoughts on “Two reasons why we don’t believe the official stats on cattle attacks.

Add yours

  1. I wholly support your campaign. The failure to keep PF safe for all is a serious issue. We want to enjoy the countryside without obstruction and risking our life and safety, and whilst understanding the point of view of farmers, it often would not take much to create ‘safe passages’ or detours. It’s not good to claim compensation after the event. Prevention is key, The problem is that, once you have had a close shave with cattle, it clips your wings: you never know where on a walk you might encounter problems, and the behaviour of cattle is totally unpredictable. Where I live in Northumberland the fields are huge, ancient hedges and boundaries long removed, and because of the lie of the land you cannot always assess the situation from where you enter the field. This includes National Trust ‘trails’ (e.g. the Wannie Line walk, near Wallington NT, North of Newcastle). I have written to the local estate manager today to ask for protected walkways to be put in place in a spot that is very popular with locals and unpassable from May-November.


    1. Totally agree with you, Gabi. Prevention is key, and providing a safe passage is the most important preventative measure farmers can put in place. Yes, it certainly ‘clips your wings’ if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have a frightening encounter with aggressive cattle. Pleased to hear you have written to the estate manager and are trying to get something done about making the trails safer.


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