New Forest cows to be de-horned after rise in 'serious injuries' to walkers

Ellena Cruse
Cattle roaming in the New Forest as livestock owners in the area have been asked to de-horn their animals to help prevent injuries to members of the public following a rise in injuries to walkers in the last year: PA

Hundreds of cows in the New Forest are set to have their horns removed after a spate of attacks left several dog walkers severely injured.

The number of incidents has risen in the last year including the reported goring of an 86-year-old woman.

Now cattle owners are being urged to de-horn their heards in the Hampshire forest to help prevent future injuries.

Tony Hockley, chairman of the New Forest Commoners' Defence Association (CDA), has written to 200 bovine keepers to encourage the procedure and said: "Over the years, dangerous incidents involving livestock have been extremely rare. Yet in the past two years, there have been several.

Horned Cow in The New Forest (@EmbleyDeputy)

"Poor behaviour by a few makes potential victims of the many.

"One badly-controlled dog can make an animal defensive to other dogs, however well-controlled.

"The CDA recommends that all depastured cattle are dehorned, except for those native breeds for which horns are an essential breed characteristic (primarily Highlands and Longhorns).

"We believe that this voluntary step can address an avoidable risk of serious injury and that it is entirely consistent with the maintenance of common rights."

Charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has spoken about against the request and is urging cow commoners to leave their cattle alone.

PETA is urging cattle owners no to remove horns (PA)

PETA’s director, Elisa Allen added: "We owe it to these free-roaming animals to find peaceful solutions to perceived problems – which, though tragic, are rare – and that doesn't mean subjecting cattle to extreme pain when their sensitive horn tissue, or the horns themselves, are removed from their skulls with searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, blades, or handsaws.

"Instead, the New Forest should focus on better signage to ensure that visitors know which areas are safe to explore."

The commoner have had the right to graze ponies and cattle in the New Forest since the 11th century.

Grazing over a 900 year period has shaped the 29,000 hectares of woodland, grassland, flora and fauna.