How to Scare Away Cows to Avoid Being Trampled to Death

Updated on January 16, 2017

Dozens of people are killed or seriously injured each year after being trampled by cows.

Often those killed by cows are innocent walkers who have ventured into the cows' field. Sometimes the animals are just being curious or they are frightened by the people in their field and they surround the walker. In some rarer cases the cows may be acting aggresively and charge at the walkers.

But cows are very fast, heavy, powerful creatures and many people are unable to escape the advance of a herd.

Dozens of people are killed each year after they're trampled to death by cows
Dozens of people are killed each year after they're trampled to death by cows

Earlier this year a walker was killed and his wife left in a critical condition after being charged at by a bull in Stanford-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire.

In Britain in June 2009 vet Liz Crowsley, 49, was trampled to death by a herd of cows as she walked her dogs in a field

The former Home Secretary David Blunkett, a close colleague of Tony Blair, was even trampled a month later while walking with his guide dog Sadie in the Peak District.

While in October 2007 police inspector Chris Poole, 50, was walking his dog through a field when he suffered life-threatening injuries after he was trampled by a herd of cows.

Unfortunatley, these are not isolated incidents and there have been many more, not just in the UK but also in the U.S. where on average 20 people die each year after being trampled by cows.

Yet despite the startling high figures, there are a number of measures that can be taken to avoid being trampled to death by a herd of cows.

  • Avoid entering fields with cows
  • Let go of your dog if cows charge
  • Don't try to outrun cows
  • Run downhill if it's possible
  • Make yourself as loud and big as possible
  • Punch the cows on their noses

Avoid Entering Fields With Cows

While walking or playing in the countryside it's easy to become complacent. They can seem so safe and placid. But always try to take alternative routues around fields that don't have livestock in them even if this means adding an extra 30 minutes to the walk. If you have to enter the field, do so quietly and stay close to the perimeter. Pick up a strong walking stick before you go in as this can be used to hit the cows, as is explained later.

Ramblers and walkers often venture into fields full of cows
Ramblers and walkers often venture into fields full of cows

Let Go of Your Dog if Cows Charge

Cows with young calves often see dogs as a threat to their young. The cows will therefore become fiercdly protective. If the cows charge and surround, always let go of the dog. The chances are that they will escape and the cows will no longer see you as being connected to the canine.

Don't Try to Outrun Cows

Cows take a while to pick up their speed, but when they do and they're galloping they can be pretty fast. Therefore only try to run away from cows if there is a short distance to the nearest exit, usually less than 20 metres. In short, judge the distance and speed and if you can get out of the field before the cows catch up then go for it. If not, then the cows will probably catch up and surround you.

Run Downhill if Possible

Normally try not to outrun cows, but if the field is sloped and the exit route is downhill then this may give sombody more time to escape. The reason is that the muscle structure of a cow's neck does not allow them to run quickly on a downward gradient. They have to slow down and pay attention to how they are moving. This may provide extra time to escape the cows.

Make Yourself as Loud and Big as Possible

If there's no easy way to escape the field, and the cows are moving towards you, then the only option may be to be brave. Be bold, and walk towards the animals. Shout as loud as you can to scare them off and throw your arms in the air. Continue on your path as you walk calmly onwards.

Punch the Cows in the Face

If shouting loudly to scare away the cows hasn't worked and they are still charging, make a tight fist and punch a couple of them on their noses as hard as possible. Accompany this with a violent roar, literally a life and death roar. This will work, and they will be frightened away. If you still have the walking stick you collected upon enetering the field, use this to give them a jolly hard whack on the head.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • profile image


      15 months ago

      I was charged yesterday whilst running through a field . I was very scared . Managed to escape .

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey I live on a farm. Cows r big animals. Hint just leave them alone in the first place it helps.ive been charged not fun I run and scream best thing to do.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      Wba a great hub which I have to vote up up and away!!

      Great work;take care and enjoy your day.


    • WildRoseBeef profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I have, twice, but that when I was just a little girl and did only that which came as instinct: scream bloody murder and head for safety, which ever place is safe for you, be it in a truck, on the other side of a truck, bale or fence, any solid object that is large and wide enough to keep you safe from an angry animal.

      As an adult I've never been charged by a bull or cow mainly because I make sure I never get complacent around them, and because I've learned to tell what a cow or bull is trying to say with their body language and vocalization. They always give you subtle warning signs that they're not comfortable with your presence or that you're getting too close for their liking. Most people say that they're very unpredictable animals, but this really isn't that true. Yes as prey animals you don't know WHEN they're going to snap, but you can tell IF they are going to or not by the warning signs the give you.

      Common sense details that you make sure you have an escape route planned out if you have to go in the same pasture or corral as the animal that has the potential to be dangerous. A walking stick is always great to have on hand. And NEVER turn your back on a bull or a cow that is most likely going to be overprotective of her calf. If something does happen, like if an animal does start to challenge you, you can make yourself as big as possible and give the animal a good hard whack across the nose. However, if the animal charges you, that animal won't stop for nothing, so make sure you have some place safe to run to to keep you safe, as I mentioned above.

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      WildRoseBeef, thanks so much for that. It helps a great deal. Have you ever been confornted by a charging cow or bull? If so, what is it best to do in this situation?

    • WildRoseBeef profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I've been around cattle for a long time and I see a bunch of things missing in your hub that need to be filled in. For the part about running downhill, I really don't see merit to that. I've seen cattle that never slow down when running downhill, and the muscle structure in the neck really has nothing to do with it. I've seen calves and older steers that weigh about half a ton that will go tearing off from the top of a manure pile faster than you can imagine. They're actually slower going uphill than down.

      For the walking stick part of things, you also gotta aim for the nose, not the head.

      And it may also help to tell others the difference between the action of a charging bovine versus cattle that are actually running up to you to greet you or for a treat. I've been surrounded by "cows" before (over 60 head at once), quite often more than once, and they're intentions are not to harm, but rather to greet, sniff you, then move on after a little while if you've got nothing for them. A charging animal will come at you with the head lowered. Warning signs include tossing of the head, pawing the earth, showing the side, wrinkling of the nose, growling, or even not seeming to pay attention to you until you get too close.

      Most people are injured or killed by cattle either as a result of a bull trying to protect his females, or a cow sees a person and a dog as a threat to her calf and thus needs to be protected. A herd of cows will charge and trample someone if that person has a dog with them or if they've never seen a person stumble or trip and fall before. They may also charge (or just run away) if the person is a total stranger and makes certain sounds that cause panic and dissent in the herd.

      Yes, complacency is a big factor in injuries and fatalities from cattle, but so is lack of knowledge of bovine behaviour and psychology. If you don't know how cattle think and behave or are misinformed by what an animal is really telling you, you're more apt to get in to deep trouble.

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from England

      Ahhh I see! Very good!

    • tsadjatko profile image

      The Logician 

      9 years ago from now on

      I know I was just trying to be funny - guess I failed.

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from England

      tsadjatko, they don't teach these things in school. It was a friend who lives in the countryside that told me about how to scare cows. Then I asked a vet and she said the same thing. Perhaps children who are in the scouts are told about it, though.

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from England

      Hi, thanks for all the comments! lovelypaper, you're forgive for laughing as it is quite a unique how to! However, people being killed by cows does happen, so the more people who are aware of what to do, the better.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      The Logician 

      9 years ago from now on

      Now why don't they teach this in schools? I tell you our education system has just gone to pot! Thunbs up and super useful! funny! and interesting!

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      9 years ago from Virginia

      Forgive me for laughing when I read the title. That thought has never crossed my mind.

    • Cloverleaf profile image


      9 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Thanks for the tips, I didn't realize that cows could get so aggressive!


    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      9 years ago from Southwest England

      good advice! I was contemplating this very subject today as I walked through a field of cows with rather large horns.


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