A farmer in the UK has been fined after a dog walker was thrown 8ft into the air by one of his cows and then trampled by it.

An investigation carried out by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into an incident established that the cow was in a field with a public right-of-way across it.

Following the investigation, farmer Barry Fowler from Devon, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the UK’s Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which says that self-employed people should conduct business in a way that “he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”.

Fowler was fined £555 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on March 8 this year.

Walker trampled by cow

According to the HSE, in July 2021, 63-year-old Steve Adams of Warwickshire was on holiday at an east Devon caravan and motorhome campsite when the incident occurred while walking with his wife and their dog, which was on a lead.

Adams, his wife and their dog were walking along a public footpath through a field containing cows with calves when one of the cows attacked, leaving Adams badly injured. He spent seven days in intensive care.

The cow repeatedly trampled on him as he tried to crawl away, breaking six ribs of his ribs and leaving him with damage to his lungs and spleen.

The HSE said cattle with young calves are known to be protective and unpredictable, and can pose a risk to walkers, especially to those with dogs, and that farmers should not put cattle with young calves in fields with a public right of way.

HSE inspector Simon Jones said Adams’ serious injuries were “totally preventable”.

“Cattle are extremely protective of their calves and even calm cattle can become aggressive if they think the calves may, in any way, be threatened, even by members of the public walking past.

“Farmers should not place cattle with calves in fields where members of the public have a legal right to walk unless appropriate measures are in place such as robust fencing separating cattle from people.

“Had Barry Fowler done this then the incident could not have happened.”

‘Be very wary of cows’

Speaking on the incident, Adams said: “My own grandfather was a farmer, so I’d been around cattle as a child, and I wasn’t scared of them.

“Now, I wouldn’t go into a field with cows, you don’t know what’s going to happen. People should be very wary of cows.”

While on the walk the day the incident occurred, Adams, his wife and their dog came to fields with a pedestrian gate at the edge of one.

They were then surrounded by more than 20 of Fowler’s cattle and some of their calves before a cow approached Adams, lowered its head and tossed him in the air. It then trampled him on the ground until he managed to crawl away.

“It was just the one cow, the biggest one. It came up and threw me into the air with its head and then it trod all over me. I was trying to crawl out of the way, but it just kept landing its hooves on me,” he said.

“The dog was on its lead and I’d managed to let it go and it made it away. My wife had one of those plastic ball throwers for the dog and she was hitting the cow with it but it made no difference at all. I managed to roll away from under it.”

Adams said it was a scary experience, and that he could not breathe after the incident occurred. It took him two and a half hours to make it back to his van and, when an ambulance was called to the site, the paramedics told him straight away that his ribs were broken.

“It was a pretty scary day. I don’t walk too much now. I’m not as healthy as I was, and I can still feel my injuries now,” he said.