How To Avoid Being Attacked By Cows

Doug Williams

While cows have been domesticated for centuries and have long had the reputation of being docile and gentle, remember that “Daisy the cow” is the female of the species and that you should be mindful of the “Raging Bull”. Cattle, however, are unlikely to attack unless they are seriously teased or provoked.

Most cattle will be familiar with humans and would rather amble around creating cow pies than attack anyone. Adult cows are often six feet tall and weigh up to 1000 pounds, have hard hooves and sharp horns making them formidable creatures.

To make sure you do not get trampled, kicked or gored, there are some things to bear in mind, particularly if the animals have become unsettled.


If you have dogs with you, it is important to keep them under control at all times. Cattle have been known to retaliate when chased, especially by dogs, or if there are young cows about. It has been known for a stampede to begin when in pursuit of an annoying dog.

If this happens, let go of the dog and get to safety yourself. Do not worry about your dog; it will be able to look after itself.

We had an experience last year where we were crossing a field with the dog, a 110lb Maremma on a lead, we were heading for the gate on the far side, and the heard of cows decided to move 100yds to cut us off, we ended up backtracking because they were determined to stop us crossing. Sometimes it just seems prudent to re-route your walk, although it’s rarely necessary.

Do not just walk straight through a herd, instead stay on the path. If the herd is on the path, keep walking and calmly wave your hiking stick while speaking in a firm calm voice. Basically, ask them nicely to move along.

Try not to startle them. Their eyes are on the either side of their heads, and they cannot see directly ahead. They will probably react to your voice before they actually see you.


When they hear you, they will probably move away before you get too close, they’re not naturally aggressive and usually act submissively. Be sure that they are aware of you and that they do not become startled.

If cattle are in your path, carefully assess your surrounds and do not endanger yourself. If you can walk around them, then do so, if you can’t because walking around them means walking too close to the edge of cliffs or other dangerous features, you will need to walk through the group, as we said above, do so calmly and carefully.

Stay well clear of calves, do not go near them and do not pet them, no matter how sweet and docile they appear. Mothers will always act to protect their young. Unfortunate encounters are often because of this. Presume you will always be seen as a threat to a calf and that’s a dangerous situation.

If a group from the herd amble over out of curiosity, stay calm and keep walking. Try not to startle them or move too suddenly. They will probably lose interest and move on.

If you do come across an aggressive animal and it charges at you, hit it hard on the nose with your hiking stick. Accuracy is key. Do not wildly wave the poles around in the air shouting out, you could well make things a lot worse.

It is better not to walk alone in remote areas, as a partner or member of your group will be able to help if you have any problems. If you are with a group, you should stick together and create a larger presence. Keep moving calmly forward past the herd and continue your journey.

There’s rarely an issue with walking in the same place as Cows but be aware of the circumstances, such as there being calves that can change the situation and you should change your direction or behavior accordingly.


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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival