Walking near livestock

The countryside is a working environment and we all need to respect farms, workers and farm animals, particularly during spring when it’s lambing season and cattle are rearing their young.

Though the presence of cattle grazing close to our route can be an intimidating experience for Freshwalkers, risks can be managed through some simple steps.

In the first instance, the Freshwalks walk leader will always assess a route situation and if there’s an obvious local detour that means we can avoid disturbing livestock, then we’ll pursue that. Our approach is always safety first. But there’s a balance to be found and accessing the best of the beautiful British countryside will inevitably lead to some encounters with livestock at some point.

When making their decision, walk leaders will pay particular attention to the presence of any bulls or cows with calves. Both potential red flags. We’ll look at behaviours – are they already agitated or aggressive and also their relative positioning within the field compared to our route and planned exit.

Your walk leader will manage the situation but it’s also important that individual walkers support the group’s collective safety by taking personal responsibility when walking near cattle by following this advice:-

  • Your walk leader will quickly assess the situation before entering any field with livestock and decide to either (a) continue as planned (b) deviate slightly from the planned route, walking around any livestock blocking a path or stile or (c) find an alternative route. Please support and follow your walk leader’s decision – even if it means impacting return time. We don’t take such decisions lightly.
  • Avoid walking too close to cattle as this only increases the risk and in particular, don’t put yourself between cows and their calves.
  • Keep dogs close, on a short lead, and under control well in advance of the field you are preparing to enter.
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence and especially dogs. Reactions can vary from mild curiosity to aggression so stay alert as to what is happening around you.
  • Move quickly, quietly and make no loud noises or animated/excessive movements that might unnecessarily agitate livestock.
  • Don’t panic or run – most threatening situations will quickly defuse and curious cattle will stop before they reach you; if you sense they are following just walk on quietly.
  • Don’t hang onto your dog if a threat is imminent – let go of the lead as the cattle will chase the dog, not you.
  • Always close gates behind you when exiting fields with livestock
  • Report any incidents or attacks to the landowner, the highway authority, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and also the police if serious enough


LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Email