Friday, 16 October 2009

A Close Encounter of the Bovine Kind! ~ Dogs & Cows ~ Natural England & Stewardship

Recently while out walking our dogs we met some cows with calves.

We were on a public footpath and just about to go through a gate when we saw them. They also saw us and came running over.

To begin with they were very curious - just sniffing the air and peering at the dogs. We stood very quietly on our side of the fence, but the cows soon became very agitated. It was very clear that it would have been dangerous to enter with the dogs.

Our problem was that it was the only way back. (The alternative was to turn back and walk another couple of miles, but our old girl had had enough). We could only get into the adjacent field by climbing over a fence - no problem for us but our greyhounds couldn't get over.

Our old girl weighs 28Kg. I lifted her up and passed her over the fence to my brother. But Boris not only weighs 36Kg, he also hates to be lifted. I gave it a try, but he went a bit crazy!

I walked some distance along the fence and found a gate - padlocked of course! But there was a big enough gap next to the gatepost for Boris to squeeze under - wriggling along on your belly doesn't come easily to greyhounds!

The field we were now in had a gate which we could open onto the road, so we were able to finish our walk in safety.

Back in June I made a post about dogs and cows - please take a look at the archive.

Natural England & Stewardship & Grazing Livestock
There was an item on the radio this morning about this. It came from Cornwall.
Cattle (usually longhorns, I understand) are roaming freely on the coastal footpath. This is because grazing encourages bio-diversity. (This is true and is a very good idea). It is part of the stewardship scheme which attracts EU subsidies.
Two problems mentioned were : 1) the number of gates and fences being erected across what was an open landscape and 2) the potential dangers for dog walkers. (Dogs and people are also part of bio-diversity!)
The point was made that dogs should be kept on leads. But that doesn't stop the cattle from approaching you and causing a problem!

The usual advice is stay calm and quiet. Don't run. Standing still can be useful - the cows will sniff you and eventually go away. Try to make a quiet exit or get to the edge of a field.
It is suggested that you let your dogs off lead - they can take care of themselves. But what if you have an old slow dog?

Things get serious if the cows feel that you or your dogs are a threat.

I've heard it suggested that you throw your arms up and shoo the cows away. Not sure I want to do that in a dodgy situation!

I like to think ahead - look for signs of cows - are there cow pats, is the ground churned up, are there troughs of water. Avoidance is the best policy I think.

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