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March 16, 2023

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Farmer fined after dog walker thrown 8ft into the air and trampled by cow

A dog walker was thrown 8ft into the air by a cow which then repeatedly trampled on him as he tried to crawl away, breaking six ribs of his ribs and leaving him with damage to his lungs and spleen.

Steve Adams, from Coleshill, Warwickshire, was on holiday with his wife Jane near Sidbury, East Devon when they went for a walk with their Springer Spaniel.

They were walking along a public footpath through a field containing cows with calves when one of the cows attacked, leaving Steve badly injured. He spent seven days in intensive care.

Cattle grazing on a farm. Credit: Alamy Stock

Steve, who is now 63, and is a dad of three with two grandchildren, is retired from the transport industry. He said: “My own grandfather was a farmer, so I’d been around cattle as a child, and I wasn’t scared of them. Now, I wouldn’t go into a field with cows, you don’t know what’s going to happen. People should be very wary of cows.”

Steve and Jane were on holiday at the East Devon caravan and motorhome campsite in July 2021 when they decided to go for a walk with their dog, which was on a lead.

Their route took them from a pub through fields. As they headed towards a pedestrian gate at the edge of one of the fields, they came to an electric fence surrounding the fields edge.

They were then surrounded by more than 20 cattle, some with calves. A cow approached, lowered its head and tossed Mr Adams into the air. It then trampled him on the ground until he managed to crawl away.

The HSE found that cattle with young calves were being kept in a field with a public right of way across it. Cattle with young calves are known to be protective and unpredictable, and can pose a risk to walkers, especially to those with dogs. The HSE advises that farmers should not put cattle with young calves in fields with a public right of way.

“I managed to roll away from under it”

Steve Adams said: “It was just the one cow, the biggest one. It came up and threw me into the air with its head and then it trod all over me. I was trying to crawl out of the way, but it just kept landing its hooves on me.

“The dog was on its lead and I’d managed to let it go and it made it away. My wife had one of those plastic ball throwers for the dog and she was hitting the cow with it but it made no difference at all. I managed to roll away from under it.

“I wasn’t feeling too good at all, I couldn’t breathe. It had taken us about 15 minutes to walk to where it happened, but it took us about two and half hours to make it back to the van. An ambulance was called to the site and they said straight away that I’d broken my ribs. It was a pretty scary day.

“I don’t walk too much now. I’m not as healthy as I was, and I can still feel my injuries now.”

Barry Fowler, of Sidbury, Sidmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £555 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on 8 March 2023.

HSE Inspector Simon Jones said: “The serious injuries to Mr Adam sustained when he has attacked and trampled by cattle with their calves was totally preventable.

“Cattle are extremely protective of their calves and even calm cattle can become aggressive if they think the calves may, in any way, be threatened, even by members of the public walking past.

“Farmers should not place cattle with calves in fields where members of the public have a legal right to walk unless appropriate measures are in place such as robust fencing separating cattle from people. Had Barry Fowler done this then the incident could not have happened.”

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1 year ago

That was a scary story, and sadly not an uncommon experience. I walk my dog on Dartmoor, where the huge open spaces have cattle with calves for part of the year. You have to be very vigilant. Cattle WILL approach you if they have calves and see you/ your dog as a threat. They are much faster than you think. When they are in sight I will be looking for a wall or fence that can be my escape point if needed. I hope Steve makes a full recovery.

1 year ago

It is about time the HSE updated and promoted proper formal advice to farmers. Currently, it is still all around bulls. Occasionally farmers do get injured by bulls, when they are working, up close and personal. Incidents like this scary example, with the public, walkers etc. involve cows, usually with calves.
My (very nice) farmer neighbour seems to have no inkling. In friendly chats, he seems to think I am exaggerating the risk.

Stuart Robertson
Stuart Robertson
1 year ago
Reply to  SafetyLady

Farmers don’t see the risk, I carry a long stick for protection and use common commands with my cattle, they do understand a number of commands like dogs. My cattle are dangerous to dogs because we don’t work the cows with a dog because it is dangerous. Any one of my cows will go for me when they have calved, after a week they are back to normal.

Stuart Robertson
Stuart Robertson
1 year ago

I farm with 40 breeding cows, I want farmers to have powers that are reasonable practicable to temporarily close a public footpath. I say this contrary to the HSE advice due to all the grazing fields on 75 acres having public footpaths. They are too dangerous to operate tractors on to harvest silage.

Stuart Robertson
Stuart Robertson
1 year ago

Further comment now I have taken in what HSE Inspector Simon Jones has said about robust fencing. For my farm with £30,000 in takings will not afford to install robust fencing (what is robust fencing I can’t find a British Standard Specification) you can’t install fencing across a bog. Simon Jones does not have a clue by his statement on the cost without even describing what is meant by robust fencing, if this is the case I want a big budget to cover loss of prime grazing land, £1000 per pallet of fencing stakes, £10 per meter for contractor, £300… Read more »