NFU Mutual has produced new signage for farmers to display in the countryside to help members of the public who may come into contact with cattle.

In a joint campaign launched during Farm Safety Week, the UK’s leading rural insurer  teamed up with the Farm Safety Foundation and the NFU to raise awareness. Incidents with livestock remain a major cause of fatal and serious injury to farm workers and the public.

The signs call for walkers to move quietly and predictability to avoid any alarm to cattle, highlighting how livestock can react to people’s presence.  

They also encourage walkers to keep their dogs on leads but release immediately if chased by cattle and to give cows space if they are on or near the footpath, re-joining the route when safe to do so.

NFU Mutual’s latest survey of over 1,100 dog owners worryingly found 50 per cent would keep their dog on the lead if chased by cattle, while 18 per dent would pick the dog up.

Eighty-six percent welcomed advice being displayed, saying they would find signage about walking in fields with livestock helpful.

NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist Hannah Binns said: “Farmers are proud to feed the nation and enhance the environment for everyone.  

“But it is important to remember these idyllic, remote locations are also places of work and home to millions of cows.

“These signs aim to highlight livestock may be nearby and encourage walkers to enjoy the countryside responsibly and safely.”

Farm Safety Foundation Manager Stephanie Berkeley added:  "As we have seen over the past few years, the rise in the numbers of general public visiting our beautiful countryside has grown and this gives rise to new issues when thinking about health and safety on your farm.

“Farming activities can pose risks to you, your workers, and also to any contractors or visitors - including walkers, hikers and cyclists

"In a week where it has shown incidents involving livestock continue to be the main reason members of the public lose their lives on our farms, we are proud to support this new campaign by NFU Mutual and remind farmers of their legal duty to consider the health and safety of members of the public using public rights of way through their fields.” 

NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “As farmers we welcome public access to the countryside. Not only is it a great way for people to see where their food comes from, but it can also provide numerous important mental and physical wellbeing benefits.

“When walking through a farm, it is crucial for people to remember it is a working environment and so they should prioritise their safety and remain vigilant at all times. We hope these signs will serve a valuable reminder for walkers to be mindful of their surroundings, enabling everyone to appreciate the countryside responsibly and safely.”

Signs are available from local NFU Mutual Agency Offices.