Cattle on Rights of Way: Ensuring Public Safety

147268363The majority of farmers will have public rights of way which cut through their farmland; given public access, we in the farming community have a responsibility to ensure that presence on farmland presents as little danger to members of the public as reasonably possible.

Given that all large animals pose a potential risk to people passing through fields, farmers who keep cattle should be acutely aware of issues which may arise when they come into contact with walkers who also have a right to be on the land.

Obviously you should try to ensure that the cattle that you breed or keep are of normally quiet temperament. However, animals under stress for any reason may become aggressive (could be due to weather, illness, protecting calves or something else outside of the ordinary). Where this is something recognised by the farmer, removing the animals from the field may be well advised. Farmers are not permitted to keep Dairy Bulls older than ten months on a public right of way and all other bulls should be accompanied by cows or heifers.

If you’re using signs to draw attention to the risk of livestock in the field, a suitable sign for a bull would be a yellow triangular sign with a black bull (or bull’s head) and if wording is required ‘bull in field’, you should avoid using potentially threatening or aggressive wording such as ‘beware’ or ‘danger’.

You should also be sure to keep rights of way clear of obstructions and overhanging vegetation, and where a right of way is disturbed (e.g. ploughed) restore the surface as quickly as possible (within 14 days)

Further information can be found on the HSE Website.

stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Cattle on Rights of Way: Ensuring Public Safety