Guidance Expert Tips

Tips When You Encounter Mother Cows

What can a hiker do if he has to cross a herd of cows? The most effective protection against aggressive cows is the right behaviour.


Animal-friendly husbandry is important for the Swiss and, therefore, for many years now the use of free-range farming has been an important factor – this also applies to the so-called mother cows herd. The bulls, cows and calves live on the same pasturage, as is the nature of the animals. The trend poses dangers for hikers and bikers, who cross the herd’s territory: from mother cows, protecting their calves, or by bulls wanting to protect their herd. Dog owners in particular must be careful. 

1. Maintain Distance

Remain, as much as it is possible, on the hiking trail and preserve a distance of at least 20 meters from the cows. If these are on the hiking trail: it is best to go around them, rather than through the herd. 

2. Keep Dogs on a Leash

If they storm into the herd, they will be attacked – as cows and bulls perceive them as a particular threat. He must be released from the leash only if the cows attack. The keeper will otherwise run the risk, of being «taken» on the horns. 

3. Keep Calm

Never fumble with your arms or sticks or make noise. Do not look the animals directly in the eyes and do not turn your back to them. 

4. Never Try to Be in the Proximity of Calves

Mother cows and the herd consider this a threat to their offspring. Also, do not touch or caress adult animals. 

5. Treat the Threatening Gestures of the Cows with Seriousness

The lowering of the head, scraping the ground and roaring are clear alarm signals. Keep calm and slowly leave the pasture. Fast movements and screams are perceived by the cows as threatening.