Charged by a cow

It all happened in slow motion. I was walking across the paddock to offer our vet, Sarah, a light steel pigtail post for protection when the cow we were so desperately trying to save squared up to me, lowered her head and charged.

I managed to strafe her face once with the spring steel rod but it did nothing to deter her.  Collecting me under the chin with her neck, she effortlessly threw her pathetic matador into the air. Luckily, I was not trampled; as my head hit the ground I saw her white belly soar through the sky as she cantered off towards the distant corner of the paddock.

I stood up, sobbing, laughing and shaking. My jaw sat unnervingly askew and my head was already sore but I was still alive and walking.

After three x-rays and a CAT scan, I’m home again, neck in a brace and feeling chastened for the anxiety I caused my ashen-faced children, who witnessed the whole thing. So, what went wrong?

The cow was a terrified first-time calver (“heifer”) in big trouble. She’d been down for a couple of hours with a rotten calf inside and sprang up miraculously the moment Sarah arrived.

1. My instincts were right that she was cranky but I didn’t know her and should have been triply careful.

2. I got off the Bobcat and walked to the vet. Why oh why didn’t I drive to the vet?

3. The vet was on the ground instead of in the Bobcat. I’d already called for extra help on wheels and if we’d waited another five minutes, this would never have happened. A vet’s time is valuable but not more valuable than life itself.

In other words, I was in a rush and took unnecessary risks in the name of getting the job done even though I pride myself on being very safety-conscious. The latest WorkSafe statistics prove dairy farming is agriculture’s most dangerous job: please learn from my mistakes and take care out there.



18 thoughts on “Charged by a cow

  1. I came close earlier this year when trying to get some escaped cattle back into a paddock. I accidentally got between a mother and her calf – never a good place to be! She had me fixed with a steely glare and was sizing me up, so I backed right off and jumped an electric fence to get out of her way. The bite from the fence seemed like the lesser danger at the time.


      • Yep – smart, gentle, and sweet as Jersey cows are, the bulls are probably the worst bovines to handle. I have a yearling bull I’m raising to replace our old one right now and even though the little dude is only around 200kg now, he already needs some not-so-subtle reminders about manners.


          • “Kleinmannetjiesindroom” is what we call it in our country: “short guy syndrome”, the little dudes are always the most aggressive. Frieslands don’t *have* to be aggressive. They’re big enough to intimidate just standing there! Jerseys are just compensating 😉


  2. My dad used to say he would sooner a horse step on his foot then a cow, he said when a cow steps on something they usually turn and look to see what it is, there fore turning her foot on yours, a horse will move off quickly. This was years ago when we had a dairy. I never got stepped on by either so I can’t this true or an old farmers tale.


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