One of the joys of walking in the countryside is being surrounded by wildlife. When walking in rural areas, we can both expect to see and enjoy seeing various animals, especially livestock. Cows, horses and sheep are all part of working country life, and although it’s a joy to be around such creatures, it can also be a little unnerving at times and there are certain things you need to know.
It’s important to be mindful of livestock when out walking, but if you follow a few simple rules, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a meadow walk or a stroll amongst the livestock in peace. After all, we can all get on, man and beast!
Caution is key when walking near livestock, but don’t be completely intimidated by animals roaming or grazing in the countryside. Just remember to keep your eye on the situation whilst on your walk. So:
- Stop to look and listen when you meander into a field or meadow where livestock are grazing. Check to see if there are any animals present, and take a look at how they’re behaving. Are there any bulls or cows with calves? If so, take particular care around them. They are going to be protective.
- Be aware that animals may react to you entering their space. This is especially the case if you are walking with a dog. Also, be prepared for how your dog may react; it’s not uncommon for dogs to feel anxious around larger animals like cattle.
- If walking with a dog, make sure they come when you call. Always keep your dog in sight, even if you are confident that he or she always responds to your command. If you’re not confident that your dog will respond, put it on a lead.
Anyone who enjoys the great outdoors in the way we all do is always respectful, we know that. But extra respect is needed for walking near livestock. Remember to close gates to stop livestock from wandering outside where they are supposed to be, and to prevent other animals entering into their boundaries. Also, if you see a sign that tells you to keep out, then stick to it. It’s there for a reason.
Never get between a cow and its calf; that’s just asking for trouble. And don’t walk too close to cattle or other livestock if you can help it.
Ultimately common sense will keep you safe when walking through a field, paddock or meadow where livestock are grazing. Move quickly and quietly at all times, and if you feel threatened, be prepared to let go of your dog if you are walking with one. Don’t panic or run though. Most cattle will stop before they get to you, so long as you continue to walk in a calm, quiet manner.
Most of all, keep your wits about you and enjoy the experience of walking amongst your fellow creatures!