The Easter break will see thousands of people heading into the countryside to stretch their legs and enjoy Britain’s stunning scenery.

While the majority of walkers enjoy the countryside safely and use the extensive network of footpaths, bridleways, and public access land without any problems, going through fields where there are cattle can be hazardous.

Britain’s workplace regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is reminding both farmers and walkers to do all they can to help to keep everyone safe, particularly where cattle and countryside visitors are close together.

HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “All large animals can be a risk to people. Even a gentle knock from a cow can result in people being crushed or falling. All cattle should be treated with respect.”

Farmers have a legal responsibility to manage their herds to reduce risk to people using footpaths and other rights of way.

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HSE regularly investigates incidents involving cattle and the public. A proportion of these incidents involve serious injury and sometimes death.

On average, between one and two members of the public are killed each year while using public rights of way, others suffer serious injury.

Incidents in which walkers are killed or injured often involve cows with calves, or bulls. Often, those injured or killed have a dog with them.

Members of the public can find out about steps to safely enjoy the countryside and respect farming activities by following government advice in The Countryside Code at

Advice includes giving livestock plenty of space as they can be unpredictable, especially when they are with their young, and keeping dogs on leads and under effective control when around livestock.

That said, cattle can be inquisitive so if walkers feel threatened, they should release their dogs from the leads so walker and dogs can get to safety separately.

Mr Owen said: “Farmers should carefully consider the risk before putting cattle into fields with footpaths, for example cows and calves are best kept in alternative fields.

“Even docile cattle, when under stress, perhaps because of the weather, illness, unusual disturbance, or when maternal or other instincts are aroused, can become aggressive.

“Follow farming industry and HSE guidance to reduce the risk from animals and help people to enjoy your land and pass through smoothly.”

Key considerations for farmers include not keeping dairy bulls in fields with public access and avoiding putting cattle, especially cows with calves, in fields with public access.

Where there is a need to keep cattle with calves or a bull in a field with public access, farmers should do all that they can to keep animals and people separated.