‘Killer cows’ are UK’s deadliest animal with ‘4,000 attacks a year’, expert says

Cows are are the UK's deadliest animal and attack humans "three to four thousand times a year", an expert has warned.

The figure in the future may be higher after several recent cases of cows attacking, including a British woman who died after being trampled to death by a herd in Wales on September 1.

Between 2018 and 2022, more than 30 people were killed by cows, according to the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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Previously experts have called for new laws to protect the public from “killer cows”, claiming an increase in aggressive behaviour by cattle.

Speaking to the Daily Star, David Clarke of Cattle on Walkers Safety (COWS) said: "Death figures vary year to year and there are often spikes, a few years back there were three deaths in a short space of months.

"Also, deaths can be distinguished between farmers and members of public, usually about three times more farmers are killed than the public.

"Long-term fatalities are about five a year. On a low number, any increase is significant. But there does seem a trend upward.

"Also, remember deaths are just the extreme result of lots of attacks/incidents. I suspect three to four thousand a year but nobody knows, with consequences ranging from lucky escape, trauma, minor injuries and progressively more serious injuries to deaths.

"About 35% of incidents lead to injury, just a matter of luck and circumstances. A recent HSE paper indicated 25% of farmers are injured every year by their cattle."

"As for carrying sticks, walking confidently through a herd or shouting commands, all nonsense recommended by armchair experts who have never been attacked, such things don’t survive a one tonne animal let alone a herd of 25 cows plus calves plus bull which ran over me several times."

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On September 1, a woman walking her dog on a public path through farmland was trampled to death by a herd of stampeding cows.

She was walking through a field of 40 cows when she was killed near Guilsfield, Wales.

A man was killed and his wife was left paralysed when they were trampled by a herd of cows while walking their daughter's whippets in September 2020.

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Micheal Holmes, 57, was pronounced dead at the scene while his wife Teresa was airlifted to hospital.

The couple were attacked after they were trampled 20 feet from the end of the footpath in a public right-of-way field.

Mr Holmes suffered 35 rib fractures and the sack of his heart was lacerated, a pathologist ruled the injuries to his chest on their own were not survivable.

Mrs Holmes, who was knocked unconscious in the incident, suffered injuries, which included spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries and fractured ribs.

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In another incident, pensioner Huw Evans was “attacked” and killed by a cow, which had escaped from the Whitland Mart livestock market in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

He was injured in the centre of the town on November 19 last year and airlifted to hospital, but sadly he died six days later.

In a statement, his family said: “Huw was a loved dad, dad, brother, uncle, and friend to many. We would like to thank the community for their support and well wishes while Huw was in hospital and since his passing. We now know how much he will be missed.”

Marian Clode was also attacked and flipped over a fence “like a ragdoll” after a stampeding cow broke loose from a holding pen in 2020.

The 61-year-old primary school teacher was on a public bridleway when the cow hit her three times, causing injuries which proved fatal.

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The inquest at Newcastle Coroners Court heard Marian had been on holiday with her husband Christopher, daughter Lucy, son-in-law Kevin and two grandchildren, aged seven and eight.

Kathryne McKellar from Macclesfield was also trampled to death while walking her dog Archie through a field.

The 74-year-old was on holiday in Clitheroe in September 2022 when she was set attacked.

Archie returned to the holiday home without her, prompting a search which led to the discovery of her body.

It is understood that 25 calves, 26 cows, and one bull were in the field at the time of the attack.

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A 77-year-old man died after he was attacked by a newly calved cow on the farm where he lived in 2021.

Patrick Geraghty was checking on the cow when it charged at him, leaving him seriously injured.

He was airlifted to hospital but tragically died sometime later.

Derek Roan died in hospital after a horror incident involving livestock at his family farm near Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway in 2022.

The 71-year-old, who had previously featured in a documentary series about farming, was injured by one of his own cows.

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He was taken to hospital but succumbed to his injuries.

Malcolm Flynn from Carlisle was seriously injured and later died after a heard of charging cows attacked while he was walking with a friend in 2020.

The 72-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene from the injuries he sustained.

His death came 10 days after Dave Clark died during a similar incident in North Yorkshire.

The school teacher was charged by a single cow while jogging with his dogs through farmland.

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There have also been several cases where Brits have sustained severe injuries but have managed to survive the stampedes.

Including Shirley McKaskie who was left brain damage and confined to a wheelchair after the 40-strong herd charged her as she used a public footpath to cut across a field near her home.

Sharon Eley was surrounded by 20 cows who headbutted in a brutal attack in the Lancashire countryside

She was left with 15 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a dislocated and shattered ankle and a broken clavicle.

The 51-year-old was also nearly garrotted by the strap on her bag after it wrapped around her neck causing ligature marks and severe bruising.

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Janicke Tvedt, 55, had been walking her eight-year-old Labrador Goose with her partner David Hood, 57, when they stumbled across a 30-strong herd of cows in Masham, North Yorkshire.

The former army officer was left with life-changing injuries and thought she was going to die as she was trampled by the dogs.

Advising people on how to stay safe, David Clarke of COWS warned walkers to stay out of fields containing cattle all together.

He continued: "Keep out of fields with cattle, they are unpredictable, even cattle thought to be docile.

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"Dogs used to be blamed, particularly when calves are involved, but even now the HSE figures do not support that, as many get attacked without dogs. Dogs and calves seem to be a convenient excuse so as to pretend something is being done and the problem is understood."

A HSE spokesperson told The Daily Star: “All large animals can be a risk to people. Even a gentle knock from a cow can result in people being crushed or falling. All cattle should be treated with respect.

“Farmers should carefully consider the risk before putting cattle into fields with footpaths.”

They added that, despite the fluctuation in figures, there is no evidence that supports the idea that such cases ‘are on the rise’.

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