Walking near Livestock

The countryside is an inspiring place to walk but it can also be little daunting when cows and bulls are grazing near your path; Remember, the countryside is working environment and it's important to be mindful and respectful of farms and farm animals, particularly during spring when cattle are rearing their young.

Here’s some advice on what do when walking near cattle:


  • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves;
    • If cattle are blocking a footpath, you’re within your rights to find an alternative safe route; making sure you return to the footpath asap.
    • should cows come too close, wave your arms around, if you have a stick, wave it.
    • farmers herd their cattle all the time, so they expect to be moved around by people.
  • Avoid getting between cows and their calves
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog/s with you; 
    • ​​Cattle percieve dogs as being wolfs 
    • the right to roam applies to people not dogs, so all dogs should be  kept on a short lead.

Beware, farmers may shoot dogs that are worrying or are about to worry, farm animals; section 9 of the Animals Act 1971.


  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd 
  • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock. 


  • Don’t hang onto your dog if you are threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle will chase the dog and not you
  • Don’t put yourself at risk by walking close to cattle
  • Don't make eye-to-eye contact with Cattle or Rams
  • Don’t panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you; if they follow just walk on quietly

Report any frightening incidents or attacks to the landowner, the highway authority, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and also the police if it's of a serious nature.

Find out more about walking near livestock by reading the Countryside Code and Scottish Outdoor Access Code.