Click to contact us or call 02476 353537

Dont get trampled by the law, farmers warned


Attacks by farm animals on walkers and ramblers are increasing, according to new figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In the last eight years, a total of 500 incidents were reported nationally of which 20 have resulted in deaths and this figure is increasing year on year.

Latest figures released by HSE reveal that 13 people were injured and two killed in Cumbria alone over the last five years, with six attacks occurring in the last year. This dramatic increase has been reflected in other rural areas prompting concerns in the agricultural industry that city dwellers escaping to the countryside do not fully understand how to behave around animals.

As a leading provider of agricultural insurance in the UK, Bluefin Insurance Services is urging farmers to seek advice to reduce the likelihood of such incidents occurring and ensure they do not find themselves on the end of a hefty compensation claim.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 gives the general public the right to roam on certain public and privately owned land. However this does not exempt farmers from responsibility if their animals attack someone.

In 2008 Shirley McKaskie, from Penrith, suffered brain damage after being trampled by a herd of cattle whilst walking her dog across farmland and won a landmark compensation claim against the farmer, which was subsequently settled out of court.

A second incident in 2009 ended in tragedy when Liz Crowsley, 49, a vet, was trampled to death by a herd of cows in the Yorkshire Dales.

In Norfolk, livestock manager Alistair Bull had a lucky escape after his dog was attacked when he tried to round up a herd of suckling cows.

Bluefins Ian Boyer said farmers needed to take extra precautions to prevent accidents and mitigate any liability they may incur.

Attacks by livestock on members of the public are a growing problem for both famers and insurers.  All large animals are potentially dangerous, even those with a quiet temperament.  Many of the incidents involve bulls and cows with calves at foot.

As a leading insurance broker to the agricultural sector, we are encouraging farmers to think carefully about the public accessing their land and to take appropriate precautions.

Before putting animals in a field that is accessed by the public, farmers should consider whether the animals are placid and well behaved, ensure gates, stiles and fences are fit for purpose and put up signs making the public aware if there are bulls or cows with calves at large.

Farmers should also be aware that on tenanted land where the cattle owner is not the same as the land owner, both can be responsible for providing a duty of care.  Tenant farmers need to check their lease agreement or talk to their land agent.

Attacks by livestock can be terrifying and result in serious injury or even death, said Boyer.  Farmers need to be aware of the risks and take the appropriate precautions to reduce the likelihood of such incidents on their land and consequent claims for financial compensation.

Bluefins advice for farmers:

1.     Are the animals placid and well behaved? If not, think carefully before putting them in fields where the public have access

2.     Is it possible to put animals in fields not used by the public especially during busy periods like school holidays?

3.     Is it possible to erect a temporary fence to separate the animals from the public, making sure not to obstruct the right of way?

4.     Is it possible to offer an alternative route bearing in mind that the public can insist on still using the original right of way?

5.     Provide a feeding area away from the footpath to prevent the animals congregating near the right of way

6.     If bulls are hired, leased, loaned or recently purchased make sure they are suitable for areas used by the public

7.     Check rights of way are clearly marked to prevent the public accidentally entering fields to which they do not have legal access

8.     Put signs on gates, stiles and all other points of access to advise the public if bulls or cows with calves are in the field

Bluefin Insurance Services Limited provides independent insurance broking services to both corporate and individual clients.  Bluefin is part of AXA UK plc and employs approximately 1700 people in 50 locations. For more information visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * great opportunity to promote your business to our dedicated readership of farmers, landowners, estate managers and associated agricultural professionals.
Contact us today on 02476 353537 and let's work together to drive your business forward.