Over the past three years, we have seen an increasing number of members of the public enjoying the freedom of our beautiful countryside for rambling and walking their dogs. Unfortunately, the same period saw nine members of the public killed while walking near cattle.
This year’s HSE Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing GB report highlighted animals to be the biggest cause of deaths on our farms – accounting for eight of the 27 fatal injuries including three members of the public.
For this reason, we have teamed up with NFU Mutual and the Farming Unions from across the country to produce new signage for farmers to display in the countryside to help members of the public who may come into contact with cattle. and raise awareness of the dangers they may face.
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 found 50% would keep their dog on the lead if chased by cattle, while 18% 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.”
Signs will be available from local NFU Mutual Agency Offices in the coming weeks.