Advice for members of the public

The Ramblers have issued the following advice on what do when you encounter cattle:

The countryside is an inspiring place to walk but it can also be little daunting when cows and bulls are grazing near your path.  But the countryside is working environment and it's important to be mindful and respectful of farms and farm animals, particularly during spring when cattle are rearing their young.


  • Stop, look and listen on entering a field.  Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
  • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you
  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd
  • Keep your dog close, on a short lead, and under effective control
  • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock
  • Report any frightening incidents or attacks to the landowner, the Council's Public Rights of Way Team, the Health & Safety Executive, and also the police if it's of a serious nature
  • Keep The Ramblers informed of any problems you experience



  • Don’t hang onto your dog if you are threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle will chase the dog and not you
  • Don’t put yourself at risk by walking close to cattle
  • Don’t panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you; if they follow just walk on quietly


Cattle on your path

So what do you do when cattle are obstructing the path?  Find another way, by going around the cattle. If cattle are blocking a path through a field, you’re well within your rights to find a safe way, away from the path to avoid them. You should then re-join the public right of way as soon as possible – and when you consider it safe to do so.  Find out more about walking near livestock by reading the Countryside Code.


All near-misses and incidents resulting in injury must be reported by the member of the public involved to the Health and Safety Executive and to the Council's Public Rights of Way Team.


Advice for farmers, landowners and other livestock keepers

The Health and Safety Executive has issued advice for farmers, landowners and other livestock keepers regarding cattle and public access.  The Health and Safety Executive has published an information sheet which describes the major hazards to members of the public associated with keeping cattle in fields where the public have access. It suggests reasonably practicable ways of controlling those hazards for walkers and land managers should also consider risks to other rights of way users such as horse riders and cyclists. A risk assessment must be made before placing cattle in a field containing a public right of way and possible control measures which should be considered include not grazing cows and calves in fields containing public rights of way, fencing off sections of the field to segregate walkers and riders from grazing cattle (while ensuring that the fencing does not interfere with the legal line of the public right of way) and moving cattle troughs and feeders away from public rights of way to avoid cattle conregating near the public. In any case, an animal must not be kept in a field containing a public rights of way if it has previously displayed agressive behaviour or if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the animal may pose a danger to the public.  Farmers, landowners and other livestock keepers should immediately report any incidents or near-misses to the Public Rights of Way Team on 01225 477650; it may also be necessary to notify the Health and Safety Executive depending on the nature of the incident.

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