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Bulls in fields (Long)
Irish Murdoch wrote in message
I've just got back from one of my favourite walking places: Warton Crag in
North Lancashire. At one point of the walk, however, I was forced, and not
for the first time, to modify my route slightly. This was because of that
sneaky old farmer's trick: putting bulls in a field that he really wishes
there wasn't a footpath across.
Now, while I am reasonably sure that many farmers do do this to discourage
people from walking on their land, I find myself wondering whether I
ought to have modified my route. Have I just bought into the sort of
stereotype" of bulls' behaviour--the view that sees them as ready and
to charge at everything that moves? Is anybody else put off by bulls, or
you all just stride blithely across their fields with ne'er a second
of being gored? What are the chances of a bull even caring that you're in
Hi everyone hope this helps, but in a nutshell treat your bull with
respect, never get between him and his hareem, keep the dog on a lead. If
any cattle show signs of agression towards you and your dog let the dog off
the lead then the cattle will concentrate their interest in the dog (giving
you chance to make way to safety) a dog will proberbly be able to escape
quicker than a human being.
However the above are mesures for emergency use only, and a farmer will not
look lightly on a loose dog among his stock, and can legaly shoot the dog.
Agriculture Information Sheet No 17
HSE information sheet
This information sheet describes the major potential hazards - to workers or
to members of the public - associated with keeping cattle, including bulls,
in fields with public access. It suggests reasonably practicable ways of
controlling those hazards. It does not provide advice on housing bulls or
other cattle, nor on safe handling.
Throughout this sheet, 'fields with public access' means fields with public
rights of way, or fields into which the occupier or owner of the land has
invited the public. It does not include fields which the public access
without permission, or fields with no public right of way. 'Bulls' means
uncastrated bovine animals of 10 months or over.
In the five years from April 1990 to March 1995, 14 major incidents
involving cattle and members of the public were investigated by HSE. Many of
these incidents were in fields; five resulted in death. There were many
other incidents not reported to nor investigated by HSE.
All large animals are potentially dangerous. Most farmers try to ensure that
the cattle they own or breed from are of a normally quiet temperament.
However, when under stress (eg because of the weather, illness, unusual
disturbance) or when maternal instincts are aroused, even normally placid
cattle can become aggressive. Even gentle knocks from cattle can result in
people being injured. All breeds should be treated with respect.
Section 59 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Section 44 of the
Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 ban bulls of recognised dairy breeds
(Ayrshire, British Friesian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey,
Jersey and Kerry) in all circumstances from being at large in fields crossed
by public rights of way. Bulls of all other breeds are also banned from such
fields unless accompanied by cows or heifers, but there are no specific
prohibitions on other cattle. 'Fields' in this legislation does not include
areas such as open fell or moorland.
Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers
and the self-employed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that
they do not put other people, for instance members of the public, at risk by
their work activities. Keeping bulls or other cattle in fields is an
activity to which this section applies.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 require that
employers and the self-employed assess the risks from their work activities
to which employees or others are exposed. This assessment should identify
the measures employers need to take to comply with health and safety
Plan and take action
Before you put any cattle, including bulls, in fields with public access:
consider carefully whether the cattle should be kept in that field. Take
into account the amount and type of public access (eg large groups of
walkers with dogs every day, groups of children, or infrequent lone
walkers). If possible use fields without public rights of way or other
permitted access when cattle are calving or during periods of greater public
use, eg school holidays;
assess whether animals in the herd are generally placid and well-behaved;
assess whether young calves kept with the herd will affect the behaviour of
older cattle - avoid down-calving cattle in fields with public access
consider whether it is reasonably practicable temporarily to fence public
rights of way so that the cattle cannot access them or whether a permissive
alternative route can be provided. Take care not to obstruct public rights
of way, and bear in mind that even if you do decide to provide a temporary
alternative route the public will still be entitled to use the right of way.
Remember, never keep recognised dairy bulls in a field crossed by a public
right of way - it is against the law - and never keep any animal known or
suspected to be aggressive in any field with public access. Consider whether
you can make safe alternative arrangements or whether you should dispose of
When you have decided that you will put cattle in a field with public
access, your precautions could include the following:
checking that fences, gates, stiles etc are safe and fit for their purpose;
checking that paths are clearly marked so that users do not enter fields
without public access;
making arrangements for checking both the cattle (for illness or other
possible causes of aggression) and the fences etc surrounding the field
regularly - at least once each day;
planning how to safely move individual cattle, the whole herd, or part of
it, from field to field. Remember that inadequately controlled cattle on
roads can cause public concern, damage or injury;
ensuring that cattle handling facilities are available, and that you can
safely move animals to them;
if bulls are on hire, lease, or loan, or if other cattle are new to the
farm, checking that they are suitable to keep in a field with public access
before putting them in such a field. A few days in another field or in a
stock building, where they can be closely and regularly observed, should
If you keep entire male cattle aged five months or over for bull beef, your
precautions could include the following:
never keeping them in fields with public rights of way or other permitted
in other fields making sure that groups of animals older than 10 months are
securely enclosed by stock-proof hedging or fencing at least 1.3 metres
high, strong enough to retain the animals and capable of restricting access
to young children. Erecting an electric fence 0.5 metres inside the external
perimeter hedge or fence will provide a greater degree of security;
fitting gates or other means of closure at points of entry into fields
containing the cattle. Gates etc should be at least of equal height and
strength as the perimeter fencing, restrict the access of young children and
be fitted with a securing device which will prevent its release by children
and animals. They should also be kept locked.
Even though you should have made sure that no aggressive, or potentially
aggressive, animal is kept in a field with public access, it is good
practice to display signs informing the public when a bull is in the field:
consider putting a sign at any gate, stile or other access point to a field
in which a bull is kept, and at points of public access to all paths onto
open areas such as fell or moorland if there is a bull at large there;
safety signs should conform to British Standard 5378, or European
equivalents, and where appropriate the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and
Signals) Regulations 1996;
a suitable sign would be triangular with a yellow background and a black
band around the outside. A bull should be shown (black on yellow) on the
sign, with supplementary text (also black on yellow) such as "bull in field"
if desired. Supplementary text should not suggest that the bull is
aggressive, threatening or dangerous;
signs should not be displayed, or should be securely covered, when there is
no bull in the field. Misleading signs which deter the public from using the
public right of way are illegal and should never be used.
Further advice and information is available from local offices of the Health
and Safety Executive.
HSE priced and free publications are available by mail order from:
HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS Tel: 01787 881165; Fax:
HSE priced publications are available from good booksellers.
For other enquiries ring HSE's Infoline, Tel: 0541 545500 or write to HSE's
Information Centre, Broad Lane, Sheffield S3 7HQ.
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