NFU Mutual has produced new signs that farmers can use to caution members of the public walking on their land about the dangers of cattle.

The sign encourages walkers to be aware, be prepared, and be respectful, and gives advice on how to behave around cattle.

For example, it warns that cattle can react to peoples’ presence so encourages walkers to move quietly and predictably. It also encourages walkers to keep their dogs on leads, but to release them immediately if chased by cattle.

NFU Mutual, the rural insurance branch of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), launched the signs to coincide with the 11th annual Farm Safety Week this week, and in a teamed up effort with the Farm Safety Foundation and Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Farm Safety Foundation manager Stephanie Berkeley commented: “In a week where it has shown incidents involving livestock continue to be the main reason members of the public lose their lives on our farms, we are proud to support this new campaign by NFU Mutual and remind farmers of their legal duty to consider the health and safety of members of the public using public rights of way through their fields.

“As we have seen over the past few years, the rise in the numbers of general public visiting our beautiful countryside has grown and this gives rise to new issues when thinking about health and safety on your farm.

“Farming activities can pose risks to you, your workers, and also to any contractors or visitors – including walkers, hikers and cyclists.”

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, of the 27 fatalities in Great Britain’s agriculture sector in the year from April 2022 to March 2023, six were members of the public.

Of these six fatalities, four were as a result of members of the public being trampled by cattle.

The HSE has previously urged farmers to be aware that they have a legal responsibility to manage their herds to reduce risk to people using footpaths and other rights of way.

Earlier this summer, a UK landowner was fined after members of the public were “seriously injured” by cattle while walking along footpaths on his estate, and in March a farmer from Devon was fined after a dog walker was thrown 8ft into the air by one of his cows and then trampled by it.

“These signs have been designed for the well-being of the walker and will help to provide peace of mind for the farmer, as they clearly outline that livestock are in close proximity, the risks and how walkers can keep themselves safe,” UFU president William Irvine said.

“The signage will be a great addition to farms helping to create a safer environment for everyone.”

Signs will be available from local NFU Mutual agency offices in the coming weeks.