‘The cows began mooing and circling us…it tossed me up into the air like a matchstick’: Walkers share their terrifying encounters with livestock after walking through cattle fields
- A new campaign group is aiming to raise awareness of cow attacks on walkers
- ‘Killer Cows’ is collating stories of cattle attacks and ‘terrifying’ close calls
- Stories include ‘Scared for her life’ and ‘Martin and Margaret: Trampled by cows’
- Group wants legislation for all livestock farmers to have public liability insurance
- Have you been attacked by livestock? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
A website demanding new laws to protect walkers from ‘killer cows’ in the countryside has described some of their attacks and close calls in harrowing detail.
‘Killer Cows’ was set up by a group of walkers who had ‘experienced aggressive behaviour by cattle’.
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The campaign is lobbying for legislation including compulsory public liability insurance for all farmers who keep livestock, cattle to be separated from walkers on National Trails and a national database of cow attacks.
It stated: ‘Some of us have been badly injured and suffered weeks of pain and disability as a result of attacks by cows.
‘And we know hundreds of walkers have had similar problems with cattle while out walking in the countryside.’
Alongside its campaigning, the site is dedicated to sharing stories of ramblers attacked by cattle near farmers’ fields, with headlines including ‘Julia: scared for her life’ and ‘Martin and Margaret: Trampled by cows’.
One story describes how a woman named Julia was attacked by a herd while holidaying near Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland.
Out walking with her partner and dog on the rocky shore, she decided to walk on the path near cattle because she ‘believed that cows do not pose dangers to humans without dogs’.
‘Killer Cows’ is a website set up by a group of walkers who had ‘experienced aggressive behaviour by cattle’. They are lobbying for new legislation, including compulsory public liability insurance for farmers who keep livestock
Martin and Margaret: Trampled by cows
On May 9, we were walking on a public footpath across a field in West Burton, in the Yorkshire Dales. The footpath provides direct access into the village from a B road and from other public rights of way over adjoining fields.
It is an area we know well, and a route we’ve walked many times before. We had our dog with us on a lead.
We didn’t see the cows to start with, but when we reached the top of a slight incline we realised there were maybe eight cows in the field, which was quite small.
Two cows were grazing directly in the line of the public footpath, so we gave them as wide a birth as we could, and walked in close proximity to the perimeter wall. We kept our small dog on a short lead.
The cows – with very little warning – became extremely agitated.
We didn’t see the calves until it was too late. Suddenly, one of the cows came toward us. Then, a big brown cow got up and came charging.
‘I shouted to Margaret to let go of the dog, which she did, and the dog ran away. I managed to get in front of the brown cow to protect my wife, but the cow butted me and tossed me up into the air like a matchstick. When I got up from the ground, I saw the cows were trampling Margaret. I ran at them, shouting and kicking.
‘The whole attack only lasted 20 seconds or so, but it seemed like a lifetime.’
‘The next thing I knew, I was down on the ground, and the cow was trampling on top of me. I lay on my side and managed to protect my stomach. I truly believe if I had been on my back I would have been killed. I was wearing a leather bum bag, which probably saved me from worse injury. It was completely split in two by the force of the cows’ hooves.’
INJURIES AND AFTERMATH
Margaret was airlifted by Yorkshire Air Ambulance to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, where she was found to have suffered six broken ribs, a collapsed lung and, more seriously, a seven cm deep tear to her liver. She was kept in hospital for five days for observation, but luckily did not need surgery to repair her liver.
As far as we know, the cows are still in the field.
Source: Killer Cows
She wrote: ‘The cows seemed to feel threatened by me, and began circling around me. Seeing this, and likely sensing aggression from the cows, my loyal dog escaped from his harness and ran towards me, then began growling at the cows…
‘Unfortunately, my partner and I were under the impression that the cows would be aggressive only to my dog, and not me.’
After her partner got the dog back in its harness, Julia described being stalked by a lone cow as she tried to walk away.
She wrote: ‘It was only three feet away… It was jumping up and down and snorting and looked like it was about to attack at any moment. I was absolutely terrified.
‘I could sense the cow, right there, hear it panting, see it snorting at me, see the ground move under it as it jumped up and down.
‘My partner, safely through the gate, and sensing I was about to be attacked, shouted run. I was now just ten or so feet from the gate – and so I did run.
‘Thankfully I reached the gate, managing to escape my brush with intense injury or death.’
Livestock owners are liable for damages caused to property by straying livestock. Damages caused to people often depend on individual circumstances and are assessed individually by the courts, although farmers are expected to carry out risk assessments and put up appropriate signage.
Where a farmer has failed to implement reasonable safety measures, they can also be liable for prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.
Yesterday, Mail Online reported the story of Sharon Eley, 51, she said she was ‘lucky to be alive’ after being strangled and repeatedly headbutted by a herd of rampaging cows in Lancashire.
Sharon Eley was surrounded by 20 cows as she walked her five-year old Lhasa Apso called Ralphie in May this year.
The herd was led by an agitated ‘ringleader’ which threw her to the ground twice before repeatedly headbutting her, leaving her with 15 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a dislocated and shattered ankle and a broken clavicle.
The 51-year-old was also nearly garrotted when the strap on her bag wrapped around her throat during the attack, leaving her with a ligature mark around and severe bruising.
It was only when other walkers entered the field and managed to distract the cows that the glamping business owner was able to escape. The other walkers escaped unharmed.
Ms Eley managed to drag herself to her feet before a stand-off between her and one remaining cow, which eventually backed down. She was then able to crawl to the edge of the field and haul herself over a dry-stone wall.
From there, she was rushed to hospital by a Mountain Rescue team, where she underwent two surgeries on her ankle. She returned to her home in the village of Blacko, Lancashire a month later.
She is now urging others to be aware of their surroundings when enjoying walks through the countryside.
Sharon Eley has said she is ‘very lucky to be alive’ after the ordeal involving around 20 cows when they attacked as she walked through the Lancashire countryside
She was walking in the Lancashine countryside with a pal and her dog Ralphie when the incident happened on May 22 earlier this year
It was only when other walkers entered the field and managed to distract the cows that the glamping business owner was able to escape. The other walkers escaped unharmed
In February, a farmer was fined £900 after his herd of cows trampled an 82-year-old pensioner to death in front of his horrified wife during a walk in the Yorkshire Dales.
Farmer Christopher Paul Sharp, 50, was also given a 12 week suspended sentence after 20 of his cattle mowed down retired teacher David Tinniswood MBE on May 30, 2020.
Mr Tinniswood had been walking his two border terriers, Bracken and Rusty, with his wife Carol when the herd ‘attacked’ them on a public pathway through Sharp’s land near the Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire.
Mr Tinniswood, a father of two, was sent flying into the air before suffering fatal abdominal injuries during the 10-minute ordeal. He sadly died at the scene.
In 2016, 83-year-old Wiltshire farmer Brian Godwin was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay costs of £30,000 at Swindon Crown Court after admitting a breach of his general duty to control his livestock.
Retired professor Mike Porter, 66, was trampled to death as he and his brother John walked their dogs along a footpath which crossed Godwin’s field at Turleigh, near Bradford-upon-Avon, in May 2013.
The court heard Godwin’s 31-strong herd of Limousin cattle were a particularly aggressive crossbreed and had attacked ramblers on four occasions previously. Godwin had twice been warned by the Health and Safety Executive.
The campaign group Killer Cows takes issue with cattle straying near footpaths with a public right of way and attacking ramblers
In 2008, a woman who was trampled by a herd of cows as she crossed a field successfully sued a farmer for £1 million.
Shirley McKaskie, 54, a company director, was walking her Jack Russell terrier on her way to a pub in the village of Greystoke, near Penrith, Cumbria, when she was injured.
She had strayed a short distance from the footpath and was trampled by the herd of 40 Simmental-cross beef cows, which included 21 calves.
The farmer, John Cameron, found her unconscious in his field and carried her to his farmhouse before she was taken to hospital.
Her injuries included fractured ribs, multiple soft-tissue injuries and a hairline fracture of the skull which required emergency surgery.
Although the Health and Safety Executive took no action, Ms McKaskie, who was confined to a wheelchair after the attack, was successful in her civil claim.
Mr Cameron’s wife Doreen said at the time: ‘He saved her life but he’s never got a word of thanks, he’s just been sued, that’s what hurts him. We’re just absolutely devastated.’
> Have you been attacked by livestock and want to share your story with us? Or are you a farmer affected by this issue? Email email@example.com
‘Sheep baa-ing too early in the morning’: Country folk share complaints of ‘entitled townies’ who moan about rural life after man whinged about combine harvester dust in his picnic
By Stewart Carr for MailOnline
Twitter users have mocked ‘entitled townies’ clashing with locals in the countryside after a man was caught on video complaining a farmer’s combine harvester had ‘ruined his family picnic’.
Footage shared across social media yesterday showed the moment a man stood in front of a combine harvester to moan about dust blown into his sandwich.
It is just one of a host of clashes involving visitors in rural communities, and comes amid reports of holidaymakers’ cars parked in farmers’ fields and blocking roads while taking selfies.
The latest incident sparked a series of anecdotes from country folk about city dwellers who moved to the country in the Covid pandemic, in a bid to escape the rat race.
The furious man complains that the harvester sprayed his family while they were having a meal twice
Catherine Appleton, who owned a holiday let in Devon, revealed how visitors’ comments included, ‘it’s too dark at night to feel safe’, ‘cows mooing woke them up’, and ‘the distant sound of neighbours’ tractors woke them up’.
Andrea Hodkingson posted on Twitter: ‘Must be a townie. I was accused by one of allowing my horse to poo deliberately outside his house.’
Another Twitter user wrote that visitors’ complaints to a farm in Lincolnshire, including ‘cows poo all over the field and no one bothers to pick it up’ and ‘sheep baa-ing loudly early in the morning’.
Dan Wrightson described driving a tractor and being confronted by a man who complained that ‘his child was asleep’.
Andy Tradesmantrucker wrote: ‘When will people get it, the countryside is not a theme park, it’s a workplace.’
Sue tweeted: ‘This is what happens when people escape cities for the idyll of the countryside.
‘They don’t get that the countryside is a workplace, not a holiday camp. It has noises, smells, dust and mud on the road.’
Jaggers of Colchester added: ‘I grew up on a farm. I’m always amazed by people who move next door to a farm and then complain about the smell, the dirt, the dust and the noise! Unreal.’
Earlier this year, farmers were told to ‘use friendly language’ towards trespassers under changes to the Countryside Code. They were also warned against using ‘misleading’ signs to deter visitors – including claiming they have bulls in their fields.
In an update to the code published by Natural England, landowners are being urged to ask rambling visitors if they are lost and ‘help them get back to paths’.
After the latest story was shared in national press, readers reacted with incredulity at the incident
David Cherry poked fun at the man’s oblivious attitude to approaching the combine harvester
Catherine Appleton wrote that visitors’ comments at her former holiday let in Devon included ‘it’s too dark at night to feel safe’, ‘cows mooing woke them up’, and ‘the distant sound of neighbours’ tractors woke them up’
Farmer Dan Willis said: ‘It’s 10/10 for stupidity. We’re working flat out to bring the grain harvest in. Doesn’t he know where the bread in that sandwich comes from?’
The clip posted on Twitter by agriculture student Eleanor Gilbert, 20, shows her and her mum Sandy, 51, driving up to their wheat field in Berkshire on Saturday, August 13, as they rush to get the man out of the way of the hulking 16tonne vehicle.
Her mother radioed stepdad Dan Wallis, 47, who was driving the vehicle. A shout of ‘oh my God!’ can be heard as the camera panned to a show a man dressed in a red t-shirt stood directly front of the combine harvester.
Sandy attempted to de-escalate the situation and got the man away from the dangerous machinery, while he continued to complain.
Miss Gilbert tweeted: ‘He was so lucky not to have been hit by a vehicle. Thanks mum for de-escalation.’
Mr Wallis later told the Sun: ‘It’s 10/10 for stupidity. We’re working flat out to bring the grain harvest in.
‘Doesn’t he know where the bread in that sandwich comes from?’
Dan Wrightson described driving a tractor and being confronted by a man who complained that ‘his child was asleep’
Another Twitter user wrote that visitors’ complaints to a farm in Lincolnshire, including ‘cows poo all over the field’ and ‘sheep baa-ing in the morning’
Tractor Mark tweeted an image of a dust cloud in front of a harvester and captioned it: ‘Show him a view from the cab?’
Deezo added: ‘Having a family picnic in a field of standing corn being harvested? What? Even hares run away when the combine gets close!’
D’Tractor Mark tweeted an image of a dust cloud in front of a harvester and captioned it: ‘Show him a view from the cab?’
In May 2020, a farmer in Cornwall covered a tourist’s Mercedes Benz in slurry after the driver parked on his land so they could get to the beach.
The tractor driver fired muck all over the luxury car near a gate on his farm in Tintagel, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur and a hotspot for visitors.
Footage of the incident emerged as thousands flocked to the coast to enjoy the warm weather over the bank holiday weekend.
In the clip, posted online by the farmer, he was heard saying: ‘The beach is nice and busy today – everyone social distancing I suppose. That busy, they’ve decided to park in the field.’
A child asks the man what he plans to do, before the farmer replies: ‘I’ve nearly finished mate, I’m not stopping.’
Elsewhere in County Durham, farmer Robert Hooper, 57, was cleared of criminal damage in February this year after he used his forklift tractor to flip and smash a car parked on his drive
In an incident captured on video, Mr Hooper, 57, drove at the Vauxhall Astra, lifted it up in the air and tipped it onto its roof and pushing it into a road while furious Charlie Burns, 21, kicked at the tractor in rage but to no avail.
Despite the clip, shot by the vehicle’s driver, showing Hooper’s telehandler tractor leaving the car a smashed wreck, a jury found him not guilty of dangerous driving and criminal damage.
The incident took place at 5.30pm on June 6 last year after Mr Burns and his friend had spent a hot summer’s day swimming at Low Force near Barnard Castle, County Durham.
On their way home they passed by Hooper’s Brockersgill Farm at Newbiggin-in-Teesdale, where Mr Johnson’s Astra – a courtesy car belonging to Vauxhall Finance – suffered a double puncture.
Hooper’s defence lawyer Michael Rawlinson told Durham Crown court Burns was ‘angry and drunk,’ punched the farmer in the face with enough force to knock off his glasses, called him a nonce and told police he’d like to ‘open him up.’
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