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... Or am I being an effete citified wimp?

(35 Posts)
Peevish Tue 07-May-13 09:48:04

More a 'what would you have done?'

Am a Londoner recently transplanted to the countryside, and adoring being able to take long walks. At the weekend, I was almost home from a fifteen-mile walk, and the last field right of way I had to take to get back to the road was through a huge field which had livestock in it. As I got closer to the animals, I realised that these consisted of (a) cows with young calves, (b) about twenty very frisky bullocks which started running in my direction when they saw me and finally, (c) a bull getting to his feet. I hesitated, and kept going through the field for a bit, trying to keep close to the hedge (which was all wire and too high to get over) but ended up getting back over the stile and retracing my steps, although because of the terrain, it ended up adding a couple of miles to my route home. I was pretty tired by then, and a bit cross with myself.

Rural types, was I being unreasonably wimpy or sensibly cautious? I grew up in dairy country, but not UK, so not used to walking through fields on rights of way and dealing with livestock in that way. I had earlier walked through a field with a bull and grown cows in it. Do you avoid bulls/ cows with calves/ herds of bullocks who seem to be responding to your appearance, or any combination of the above?

No dog involved, incidentally, just one law-abiding person with an OS map.

Pootles2010 Tue 07-May-13 09:49:39

Nah I think you did right thing, especially the cows with their calves! We once had to walk miles and miles as cow & her calf were either side of a stile we needed to cross.

HerrenaHarridan Tue 07-May-13 09:51:36

You made the right decision! The mummy cows don't like intruders in Their field when the calves are about. That's why daddy bull is there! Always go round if their calving, smile

HerrenaHarridan Tue 07-May-13 09:52:13

Their should obvs be they're blush

HoHoHoNoYouDont Tue 07-May-13 09:52:39

I'm a city girl and I would have crapped myself personally! There would have been no way I would have gone through that field. I expect the mummy cow will have been very protective.

cogitosum Tue 07-May-13 09:52:54

I wouldn't walk through a field with cows and calves even without the bullocks and bull as I was always taught to avoid animals with their young as they can be defensive.

Actually as an aside this is something that really annoys me when there's a public footpath through a field and a farmer puts livestock that could potentially be dangerous on it as they are basically removing the public right of way. What would happen if someone got hurt in these circumstances? Would the farmer be liable?

DeepRedBetty Tue 07-May-13 09:53:16

I'm country born and bred <makes Wurzel-type grunting noise> - and would probably have avoided that path too! Yes, the herd being a mixed group would probably have guaranteed good behaviour, and the younger cattle were probably just being a bit nosey, but I'm not a massive fan of being charged at by a quantity of idiotic bovines. Too many probablys in there for me grin

toosoft Tue 07-May-13 09:53:30

You did the right thing.

iseenodust Tue 07-May-13 09:53:41

Sensibly cautious.

Flobbadobs Tue 07-May-13 09:58:57

You did the right thing. My IL's are dairy farmers and I learnt very quickly to back off when I saw a cow and calf walking up the lane towards me!

Peevish Tue 07-May-13 09:59:40

So, the consensus is that it is cows with calves that were the most dangerous element of that situation? Supposing it had just been a bull with grown cows, or just bullocks by themselves? As I said, I had walked through a field with a bull and cows (no calves) earlier, but none of them took any notice of me and it would have been easier to jump over the ditch. However, my instincts tell me to avoid a solo bull...?

Obviously I use my common sense in individual situations but just wondered what rural people would do or not do in similar situations.

Peevish Tue 07-May-13 10:03:15

Also, on cogito's point, is there any obligation on the landowner to avoid putting 'dangerous' livestock in a field with a right of way, or to post a notice if they do? The field with bull and cows I had gone through earlier had a sign on the stile I left by, but not on the stile I got in by!

Thanks for responses, all.

Flobbadobs Tue 07-May-13 10:04:28

Oh yes avoid the bull if you can but a mother can be very unpredictable while with her calf.
A public footpath runs through the Il's farm, more than once someone from the family has had to go out and escort nervous walkers around a jumpy mother. Usually because they have got too near the calf.
Mostly though in my experience even a lone bull will ignore you as long as you give them enough space. That's just my experience though, the herd is quite used to walkers due to the footpath.

LessMissAbs Tue 07-May-13 10:40:32

You were actually very sensible. There have been incidences of people being killed by cows with calves. Good idea to keep to the field boundary too. You walks sound fabulous!

mrsjay Tue 07-May-13 11:10:24

cows are evil fact grin I would walk trough a field of cows

newfavouritething Tue 07-May-13 11:12:49

Am surprised that you found such a mixed herd - typically bullocks are not turned out with cows and/or bull. Cows and calves most dangerous because of the mummy instincts, especially if calf is noisy (no animal does controlled crying, if baby is crying they'll do anything to get to it) and can attack if they think calf is at risk. Bulls with cows are generally very chilled - they are male and have food and sex, simple creatures. Bulls on their own can be grumpy as they only have food, no sex. Bullocks are a bit young and daft and curious, best thing to do if they come running is stand still, they'll either stop or go around you.
You did the right thing - being nervous never helps.
Think of the countryside as what it actually is, a big factory floor producing food for you - they are nice bits, not so nice bits and downright dangerous bits, same as every other factory. Most factories don't allow members of the public to walk through them, some farms have to.
If one side of the field had signs and the other didn't, then my guess is a sign was stolen. Sadly it happens a lot. Enjoy your walking :-)

WilsonFrickett Tue 07-May-13 11:12:55

I know of more than one farm worker who has been hurt by a cow trying to protect her calf. V unpredictable in that situation, so you should definitely avoid.

Naoko Tue 07-May-13 11:15:03

It's the bull that'd worry me, my granddad was a dairy farmer before he retired and as a toddler he'd let me follow him everywhere in the fields, except near the bull. I like cows, they don't scare me, but I wouldn't go near a bull I don't know.

newfavouritething Tue 07-May-13 11:15:55

And if you ever do take a dog with you and get into trouble LET GO OF THE DOG. It can run faster than you and it's what the cows are scared of/chasing.

ConferencePear Tue 07-May-13 11:31:12

You did the right thing to get out of the field with such an unusual mixture of cattle.
I would be more scared of the cows with calves, especially if they were very young, than any other element in that situation.
Because they are more dangerous dairy bulls should not be in fields anyway so the bull was probably OK, but I would always be wary of them.
I think of bullocks as noisy teenagers. Mostly silly but not really dangerous.

ExitPursuedByABear Tue 07-May-13 11:49:22

Trouble is, I don't think my dog would run away from me, he would hide behind me

PetiteRaleuse Tue 07-May-13 11:56:38

I will happily walk through a field of bullocks, as even when they run towards you they generally stop. I won't go in a field with cows and calves or with an adult bull in there.

And with the dog I won't go through any field with livestock, because even if he is on a lead the sheep might get stressed by his presence.

cazboldy Tue 07-May-13 11:59:07

yes exit that would be my experience too. I would really avoid walking a dog through cattle - you don't know if the cattle are used to a dog/how the dog will react. Most people that are hurt by cattle when walking have a dog with them.

We have dairy cows.

It does sound like an odd mix to have in a field together.

I would say if you are ever worried then don't walk through livestock - they can sense it.

Also yes avoid mums and newborns.

Younger cattle can be far more inquisitive though, and more likely to run.

cogitosum Most farmers I know don't really like turning out their cattle on a right of way, but many have no choice.

all cattle are potentially dangerous, as we have no idea what the people walking through the fields might do! unfortunately not everyone is sensible!

Primrose123 Tue 07-May-13 12:00:25

I think you did the right thing. I always thought cows were gentle, and have never been afraid of them, but a neighbour walked through a field of cows recently, they chased him and he ended up with a broken collarbone.

SundaysGirl Tue 07-May-13 12:07:04

Your 'danger' instinct went off and you paid attention to it. Think you did the right thing. smile

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