When Cows attack

and why you need to be willing to get rid of an aggressive animal

This morning was a scary moment for me.  I was ran down by a cow.

Cows are the number 1 cause of injuries and the number 2 cause of death for farmers right after tractors.  After this morning I believe it.  

Fortunately for me, it was our 6 month old Highland calf who ran me down.  Having said that, she’s not some adorable little fluffy thing.  Well she is adorable and fluffy, but she probably weighs 600 pounds at this point and she was pretty effective at causing damage the day she was born.

highland calf drinking bottle of milk
Ok yes she was so gosh darn cute and fluffy

What happened

Merida (named after the scottish Disney character from Brave), has always been a rascal.  She learned very quickly that she could slip in an out of her corral and had no problem leaving her mom behind to go eat from the hay pile.  I didn’t really mind because it was cute having this little thing tottering behind me.  I figured when she got bigger that she would stop getting out.  Well she hasn’t.  Somehow she still fits her fat butt between the bars and now she’s a big calf with an attitude.

red highland calf

The little highland calf is usually pretty good at getting out of my way when I shush her.  Today however, she decided that she was the boss and I needed to get out of her way.  

So she rammed me.

She rammed me hard enough to knock me down.  Luckily I was pushed back into a hobby chainlink fence that acted more like a net and kept me from going all the way down or I think I would have been seriously trampled. As it was, she seemed surprised and backed off.

Bruise from cow attack
I was lucky to walk away with just a bruise

A 600 pound animal ramming you is bad enough, but her daddy is about a thousand extra pounds on top of that.  Cows kill around 22 people a year, according to the CDC (around 10% of all farmer deaths).  Five times more deaths than sharks, but nearly half of how many pet dogs kill (so still be more scared of Fido than Bessy or Jaws).

Pie chart of the causes of WI Farm Fatalities (1993-2009)

What should you do if you have an aggressive cow (or any animal)?

If you are a farmer or homesteader and you have a cow remember that 1/3 of all cow caused deaths were by cows that had shown previous aggression.  Merida, although cute and fluffy, rammed someone when she was a few months old and again today at 6 months.  While we might forgive a tottering little calf’s behavior, we probably shouldn’t have and anyways she is now long past the stage when any aggression is acceptable.  

Get rid of an aggressive animal

We have children and many visitors at our ranch and we have always had a rule that no aggressive animal is allowed on this property.  They are either eaten or sold.  So as of tomorrow, Merida is sold and being taken somewhere else.  I couldn’t live with myself if a person was injured and these injuries almost always take place when people are willing to hold onto an aggressive animal.  Get rid of an aggressive animal.


I don’t care if this is a mean rooster or a head butting sheep.  Unless you are raising fighting geese (and yes there actually is a russian fighting goose), you should be choosing animals for their friendliness and ease of care.  OR YOU ARE RISKING DEATH AND INJURY.

Ok maybe your rooster isn’t going to kill you (although it has happened to be fair…) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/08/cock-kills-man-california-cockfight

cockfight rooster kills man

There is never a good enough reason to keep an aggressive animal around and this is especially true if you are a small farmer or homesteader.  Most likely you do not have the help or the facilities to even semi safely work around aggressive animals.  Your fences probably need to be mended, your electric fence probably constantly is shorting out on tumbleweeds, and more importantly you probably rely on your family, friends and children to keep your farm going.  

Do you really want to risk that?

farm kids little girls holding baby goat

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