FARMERS in the south west are being urged to reduce the risk of walkers being injured by livestock - and walkers are being reminded to be careful around cattle when out and about. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding farmers and walkers to 'do all they can to keep everyone safe' this Easter. 

HSE is currently running the Your Farm, Your Future campaign, which is aimed at improving safety on British farms. For 2024, the campaign is focusing on livestock. 

The workplace regulator says they regularly investigate incidents involving cattle and members of the public. They say that, on average, between one and two are killed each year when using public rights of way. 

READ MORE: All you need to know about public rights of way on your land

HSE explained that in the past 12 months, they have prosecuted four landowners/farmers for failing to take approproate steps to stop walkers from being seriously injured on their land. They say farmers have a legal responsibility to manage herds and reduce risk.

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 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 and landowners 

  • No dairy bulls should be kept in fields with public access at any time.
  • Where possible avoid 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, do all that you can to keep animals and people separated. Consider the use of fencing (permanent or temporary e.g. electric fencing). This is particularly important at busy times or where access routes are heavily used.
  • Assess the temperament of any cattle before putting them into a field with public access.
  • If cattle, especially cows with calves, do need to be put into fields with public access, keep this period to a minimum.
  • Position feed and water troughs away from public access routes and away from public entrances and exists to the field.
  • Put in place a system to monitor any cattle in fields with public access at least on a daily basis. It may be worth recording this.
  • Consider culling any animal that shows signs of aggression.
  • Any animal that has shown any sign of aggression must not be kept in a field with public access.
  • Clearly sign post all public access routes across the farm. Display signage at all entrances to the field stating what is in the field (cows with calves / bulls).

Key considerations for walkers  

  • Give livestock plenty of space. Their behaviour can be unpredictable, especially when they are with their young.
  • Keep your dog under effective control to make sure it stays away from livestock. It is good practice wherever you are to keep your dog on a lead around livestock.
  • Let your dog off the lead if you feel threatened by livestock. Releasing your dog will make it easier for you both to reach safety.