Legislation around bulls must be reviewed

Cattle

We’re calling for a review of the legislation around bulls being kept in fields with footpaths passing through them following the recent trial over the death of walker Roger Freeman.

Mr Freeman was sadly killed by a bull while out walking through Underhill Farm near Loughborough in November 2010. Leicestershire farmer Paul Waterfall, who owned the bull, was on trial for manslaughter by gross negligence but has been found not guilty.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of Roger Freeman.” says Ramblers senior policy officer Janet Davis. 

“We’ll be looking at all the evidence from the case and reviewing it closely, however the case has really highlighted the necessity to re-examine the legislation around bulls being kept in fields with footpaths passing through them.

“Farming practices and cattle breeds have changed considerably since the Wildlife and Countryside Act was written in 1981.

“The Act bans some bulls from being kept in fields that are crossed by a right of way. If bulls are under the age of 10 months or not of a recognised dairy breed, and provided they’re accompanied by cows or heifers, they are allowed to be kept in such fields. However there are now many new breeds of bull that are not included on this list that may in fact be dangerous.

“We’re calling for this legislation to be carefully reviewed. We’d like to work with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) to help make the countryside safer for everyone.”

Though attacks by farm animals do happen, we know they are extremely rare and thousands of walkers regularly enjoy the countryside without incident. 

Read our advice on how to stay safe when walking near cattle. 

Gerald Moss


1. I find cattle more of a problem than they used to be(and I have a farming background).
2, In the past farms were small and animals were handled more, but now farms are bigger they have less contact with people, which makes them more nervous when they see walkers.
3. I find it is more of a problem on my own or with one other person, when there are three or more it is easier to keep cattle at bay.
4. Cattle with calves are unpredictable, and it I frequently come across herds of suckler cows, which I try to avoid.
5. If farmers were held to be more responsible perhaps they could put up a sign offering an alternative route.
6. Two years ago I came across two bulls in a field with a PRoW, which I reported to the HSE; there was no alternative route and it was irresponsible.
7. Horses can also be a problem.
8. I assume Ramblers are in contact with the NFU on this matter, and are asking for improvements, as it is unsatisfactory at present.