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Needing a livestock refresher course

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have had numerous encounters with livestock on caminos over the years. I don’t enjoy it, but I have more or less gotten used to it and have usually been able to forge ahead. But I have on occasion scrambled up sharp brambly hills or walked quickly through ankle-high mud to avoid them. One of the posts that helped calm my nerves was this one from @Farmer John

I am reading @Magwood’s wonderful Camino Torres blog, and see that I can expect to walk through several large ranches where the livestock ranges freely. On one day, Magwood and her group actually went under a wire fence to avoid a bull/steer/? that was planted in front of them on the path. As she noted in her blog, there was no assurance that they weren’t just going over to another ranch where more livestock were roaming around. But they made it!

I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action, or if walking on by would have been ok. I know what the big toros bravos look like, and I know that I will not encounter them on any camino path, but I would like to get a better sense of how to react to the male livestock that I will undoubtedly encounter.

And btw, Magwood’s Torres blog is excellent. And with the opening of the Geira (as described in jungleboy’s equally excellent retelling), the Torres is now a feeder into two different routes. When you get to Braga, you can decide whether to continue to the Caminho Portugues Central (merging in Ponte de Lima), or whether to continue from Braga on the Geira, which goes through some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural areas. But first you have to get through the livestock. :p

Buen camino, Laurie
 
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I have had numerous encounters with livestock on caminos over the years. I don’t enjoy it, but I have more or less gotten used to it and have usually been able to forge ahead. But I have on occasion scrambled up sharp brambly hills or walked quickly through ankle-high mud to avoid them. One of the posts that helped calm my nerves was this one from @Farmer John

I am reading @Magwood’s wonderful Camino Torres blog, and see that I can expect to walk through several large ranches where the livestock ranges freely. On one day, Magwood and her group actually went under a wire fence to avoid a bull/steer/? that was planted in front of them on the path. As she noted in her blog, there was no assurance that they weren’t just going over to another ranch where more livestock were roaming around. But they made it!

I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action, or if walking on by would have been ok. I know what the big wild toros bravos look like, and I know that I will not encounter them on any camino path, but I would like to get a better sense of how to react to the male livestock that I will undoubtedly encounter.

And btw, Magwood’s Torres blog is excellent. And with the opening of the Geira (as described in jungleboy’s equally excellent retelling), the Torres is now a feeder into two different routes. When you get to Braga, you can decide whether to continue to the Caminho Portugues Central (merging in Ponte de Lima), or whether to continue from Braga on the Geira, which goes through some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural areas. But first you have to get through the livestock. :p

Buen camino, Laurie
would that I were young and athletic! The big stick I would carry would be of the pole vaulting variety which could send me flying merrily over their heads and hedges and ditches! Walk soft and stay safe :)

Samarkand.
 

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Fuji’s nemesis!!! 😱😱😱 on our Feast of St James walk we had to cross a field with cows, but luckily I had bodyguards around me so the cows never bothered us 😅

Is Camino Torres another one of the Camino in solitude? I guess the clue is in the name! 🐄
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
At the suggestion of a forum memnber via PM,I want to make clear that the “toros bravos” (i.e., those bred for bullfighting) are heavily regulated, required to be confined, and too valuable to be wandering around on a camino path. If you have ever walked by a toro bravo farm (there are several on the Vdlp, for instance), you will see security cameras, heavy fences, and stern warnings to stay away. There is ZERO chance you will encounter a “toro bravo” walking through a field on any camino.

But for those of us who have no background with bull, other than the kind that is slung at many meetings I have attended in my day, we may not have the ability to make a good judgment about whether a particular bull/steer is too dangerous to walk past. That’s the guidance I’m hoping to get a bit more of here.
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
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Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I have had numerous encounters with livestock on caminos over the years. I don’t enjoy it, but I have more or less gotten used to it and have usually been able to forge ahead. But I have on occasion scrambled up sharp brambly hills or walked quickly through ankle-high mud to avoid them. One of the posts that helped calm my nerves was this one from @Farmer John

I am reading @Magwood’s wonderful Camino Torres blog, and see that I can expect to walk through several large ranches where the livestock ranges freely. On one day, Magwood and her group actually went under a wire fence to avoid a bull/steer/? that was planted in front of them on the path. As she noted in her blog, there was no assurance that they weren’t just going over to another ranch where more livestock were roaming around. But they made it!

I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action, or if walking on by would have been ok. I know what the big toros bravos look like, and I know that I will not encounter them on any camino path, but I would like to get a better sense of how to react to the male livestock that I will undoubtedly encounter.

And btw, Magwood’s Torres blog is excellent. And with the opening of the Geira (as described in jungleboy’s equally excellent retelling), the Torres is now a feeder into two different routes. When you get to Braga, you can decide whether to continue to the Caminho Portugues Central (merging in Ponte de Lima), or whether to continue from Braga on the Geira, which goes through some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural areas. But first you have to get through the livestock. :p

Buen camino, Laurie
Maybe, maybe not.....
You never know what a herd bull will do, any herd bull. I certainly wouldn't want to share a narrow path with one. Years ago I saw a loose bull on a rural roadway. I stopped and saw a gate to a pasture that was open. I surmised that was his pasture and there were a lot of cows in it, just staring at us. I got out my truck and tried to coax the big fellow to the gate and he was having none of it, did a 180 and came straight at me. Fortunately I was younger and a lot faster then and ran for the truck and jumped up on the hood and even tore my jeans in the process. I remember hearing the bull's hooves clacking behind me the whole time. On the hood I looked back and saw the bull trotting further down the blacktop road, no interest in me at all. He made his point I guess. He was a massive brindle pattern bull is all I remember.
I've also been to friends farms and ranches where the herd bull was like a big, really big puppy dog. Just a friendly and gentle as can be.
I give all livestock on the Camino a wide berth simply because we are strangers to them and they do have their routines and territorial space.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
Simply not possible to tell from the ‘photo. I’m surrounded by sheep and cattle farms - the young male ‘bulls’ - bullocks - are the usual concern. They’re in a herd of immature males, they’re curious and excitable, but easily intimidated. I often have to release Henry the (actual) dog as his presence can cause aggression.

The adult bulls, of which there are few, have their own individual character; but would need a reason to be aggressive - it’s just too much effort.

I’ve known one since he was born; but he’s the size of a family car now and sometimes best avoided.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
I'm just glad a bulls undercarriages are in full view...no mistaking them for anything other than what they are.
I always use photos of Henry the (actual) dog from the front, so as not to frighten those of a nervous disposition.

Back on topic: cows are very protective of calves and can be aggressive in defence against any perceived threat. Dogs especially.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
There is ZERO chance you will encounter a “toro bravo” walking through a field on any camino.
Until you do!!!!! Walking off-camino from Pamplona to the Camino Aragon, we heard a lot of shouting in a small village followed by a bull trooping around the street corner being pursued by several townsfolk. It snorted, pawed the ground, and made a short charge at us, followed by another round of “chase the bull” by the locals. The second time around, he looked even more upset and I’m pretty sure my red backpack wasn’t helping! 😵. Fortunately, he found the nearby open gate to his field and was successfully “captured”.

In short, they have horns and I don’t, so Toro Bravo, herd bull, or even just a mean looking cow, I give them all plenty of space.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
It means that in my judgement I can get over a fence (or similar) before the bull gets to me! Walk along a field boundary, not straight through the middle of the field; regardless of the right of way.

If it’s blocking the path, then that’s clearly not sensible.

Honestly with a calm-looking animal and without anyone else to worry about I’d just proceed in a stately manner. I’d take one arm out of the rucksack shoulder strap just in case I had to ditch it in a hurry. If approached I’d face the bull, make a noise. and big arms.

If it looks like it’s going wrong, get over the fence.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I personally would not walk past that bull on a narrow path. If there was a large field on either side I'd walk out into the field a hundred metres or so and give him room or simply climb under the barbed wire and do the same. Both options take so little time and may save one a bad encounter. Same with some horses. A stallion/stud can be unpredictable sometimes. Mares with young foals can be protective. I've been chased and knocked down by a large billy goat before and even been chased by male geese and roosters, lol. Domestic hogs and sheep I never give any mind to. If you see a wild boar, keep your distance.
Funny thing is I would bet that when they got even with that bull with the fence between them and they yelled in a loud voice "get out of here! vamanos! go on!" it would have hightailed it down the path lol.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
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On camino in Portugal there are sometimes signs for gado bravo, indicating areas where there could be dangerous cattle. We saw this several times on the Nascente but not on the Torres or Geira IIRC.
 
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2023
It is very difficult to generalise from a close up photo.

Start with understanding some basic stuff.

1 Cattle are prey animals and so, in general, they are only aggressive to non-cattle if they feel threatened.

2 Cattle are herd animals. The safest place is in the middle of the herd. The most dangerous place is away from the herd.

...... This leads to

Cattle on their own are more likely to feel threatened than an animal that is close to other cattle.

As a result I would tend to avoid walking between two groups of cattle or between a solitary animal and the rest of the herd or between a calf and its mother.

I would tend to be cautious around an animal that was on its own.

Environment and socialisation play big parts. I would rarely even think about being cautious on a Kiwi dairy farm. These animals have seen and interacted with humans since they were born, on a daily basis. Generally these cattle see humans as safe and helpful.

Entirely different on a beef farm where the individual paddocks may be hundreds of hectares. These cattle may only see a human once or twice a year and their usual encounters are highly stressful.

Cattle in this second category will try to figure out if you are a predator and therefore a danger to them.

Predators look directly at their prey. Predators will walk or run directly at their prey.

So if you don't want to look like a predator then look at the ground or off to the side, never directly at the animal. By preference walk away from the animal or off to the side.

If for some reason you need to approach an animal or group of cattle (perhaps they are blocking access to a bridge) then walk calmly in an arc that would bring you up to their middle if they are an individual or towards the middle of the herd.

If cattle have plenty of room to maneuver then they will tend to move away to avoid you.

***Be careful with this next advice***

If you make yourself look very tall by raising your hiking poles over your head then that will look like something to be avoided and most cattle will move away.

DON'T wave your poles around and/or shout. That is too scary and you risk stampeding them and then they are out of control.

DON'T do this when they have no where to move to to get away from you. They will then feel threatened and may charge.

DON'T do this when you are too close to them as they may react in an unpredictable manner. Do it when there is a lot of distance between you and the cattle.

If I met the animal pictured in the blog post, in Spain, on a trail with fences either side and limited room to avoid the animal then if I saw it early enough when I was still at a distance then I would try my hiking pole maneuver and if that moved the animal on ahead of me then I would advance.

If I came across the animal suddenly when I was too close or if it didn't respond to my poles above my head then I would look for a way to get around the animal safely, perhaps by going over or under one of the fences.

I only encountered a herd of cattle in a big field once on Camino. Most of the cattle and calves were off the side of the marked path and I kept note of them (but never looking direct) but ignored them. There was one animal grazing close to the path but between me and the main herd. I made sure it was aware of me by scuffling my feet and it moved away calmly and continued grazing. There was one animal that was on the other side of the path and so if I had done nothing then I would have walked between it and the herd and so when I was still at some distance from it I raised my poles and coughed so that it noticed me and it moved across the path to be closer to the herd and so I then lowered my poles and ignored it.

Remember that with the exception of the fighting bulls someone has to handle the cattle that you encounter. If the farmer or the stockman has a problem/aggressive animal in the herd then it is generally cheaper, easier and safer to get rid of that animal as quickly as possible. A dangerous animal is dangerous to everyone.

About the only place where this won't happen is when cattle are grazed on free range where there are predators present. In this case the farmer may see that aggression as an asset to protect his animals from the predators.

Ultimately you will need to develop your own strategies for the situations that you encounter.
 
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Dilbin

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Irun to Santander del Norte
I have had numerous encounters with livestock on caminos over the years. I don’t enjoy it, but I have more or less gotten used to it and have usually been able to forge ahead. But I have on occasion scrambled up sharp brambly hills or walked quickly through ankle-high mud to avoid them. One of the posts that helped calm my nerves was this one from @Farmer John

I am reading @Magwood’s wonderful Camino Torres blog, and see that I can expect to walk through several large ranches where the livestock ranges freely. On one day, Magwood and her group actually went under a wire fence to avoid a bull/steer/? that was planted in front of them on the path. As she noted in her blog, there was no assurance that they weren’t just going over to another ranch where more livestock were roaming around. But they made it!

I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action, or if walking on by would have been ok. I know what the big toros bravos look like, and I know that I will not encounter them on any camino path, but I would like to get a better sense of how to react to the male livestock that I will undoubtedly encounter.

And btw, Magwood’s Torres blog is excellent. And with the opening of the Geira (as described in jungleboy’s equally excellent retelling), the Torres is now a feeder into two different routes. When you get to Braga, you can decide whether to continue to the Caminho Portugues Central (merging in Ponte de Lima), or whether to continue from Braga on the Geira, which goes through some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural areas. But first you have to get through the livestock. :p

Buen camino, Laurie
Hi. Firstly I have to agree in relation to Magwood. Her Blogs are brilliant and she is so helpful if you ask her anything. Secondly and a bit off topic but my biggest issue isn't livestock but it's the amount of dogs. Recently I got bitten while out walking here at home and it's the psychological effect that's the worst. I walk everyday and will be walking the San Salvador next week but my peace and freedom have been taken from me. I also got attacked and just nipped on another occasion whilst walking Del Norte. It's frightening how much the psychological takes hold to a point where I almost freeze up with fear each day as I encounter many people walking there dogs.
Just a note and as an Irishman the only livestock that you need fear is the bull. Cattle etc will very seldom come near you and goats on the most part are placid so hopefully you don't have any situations. A wave of a stick should be enough to scare away any curious critters. Buen Camino, Daniel
 

Philtration

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2021
I have had numerous encounters with livestock on caminos over the years. I don’t enjoy it, but I have more or less gotten used to it and have usually been able to forge ahead. But I have on occasion scrambled up sharp brambly hills or walked quickly through ankle-high mud to avoid them. One of the posts that helped calm my nerves was this one from @Farmer John

I am reading @Magwood’s wonderful Camino Torres blog, and see that I can expect to walk through several large ranches where the livestock ranges freely. On one day, Magwood and her group actually went under a wire fence to avoid a bull/steer/? that was planted in front of them on the path. As she noted in her blog, there was no assurance that they weren’t just going over to another ranch where more livestock were roaming around. But they made it!

I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action, or if walking on by would have been ok. I know what the big toros bravos look like, and I know that I will not encounter them on any camino path, but I would like to get a better sense of how to react to the male livestock that I will undoubtedly encounter.

And btw, Magwood’s Torres blog is excellent. And with the opening of the Geira (as described in jungleboy’s equally excellent retelling), the Torres is now a feeder into two different routes. When you get to Braga, you can decide whether to continue to the Caminho Portugues Central (merging in Ponte de Lima), or whether to continue from Braga on the Geira, which goes through some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural areas. But first you have to get through the livestock. :p

Buen camino, Laurie
Just want to point out that this post and the whole discussion here is pure, unadulterated bull.
Someone had to say it! 😄
 
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Mainelynn
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Frances (2016) Norte, Primitivo (2017), Portugues (2018), Finisterre/Muxia (2016)
Thanks, so here’s the question — if you came across that animal standing in your path, would you advance?

I came across a young bull moose on Mt Katahdin at the end of the Appalachian Trail. Nature was calling and, as I was about to meander behind a boulder, out of the woods came this hot to trot bull—did I mention it was rutting season?? He stood ten feet in front of me on the path and toyed with me for fifteen minutes: back and forth across the path. I couldn’t take one step forward or backwards or he moved towards me. When he finally decided to move on ( he sensed a female of his own species was nearby) I knew he left snickering, knowing he had scared the daylights right out of me. Thankfully that was all!

On the Portugues, there was a trail through a farm filled with meandering cows and one bull. They lined the path on both sides. Nature was calling again. This bull knew not to get in the way of a woman with a full bladder and he graciously (??) stepped aside. The females were not as kind, but I barreled through.

I have since learned never to let any male—animal or human—stand in my way when I’m on a mission! It may come back to bite me someday, but…. As US President Teddy Roosevelt once said,”Speak softly and carry a big stick,” I follow that advise closely!
 

MaryB2624

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August/September 2018
Our encounters with livestock on the Portuguese were the highlights of my camino! We had the opportunity to see a farmers moving some sheep to a new pasture and it was something that I will always remember. I am speaking as someone who farms and has cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens.

I just want to put a reminder out there that the farmers that we encounter on the pilgrimage are trying to make a living. (and not always an easy one) Livestock is a very valuable asset and should be respected. You are on their land and on their farm and if you aren't 100% sure - give them space. You are much more likely to spook an animal and have them run through a fence causing injury to the animal than you are having the animal attempt to injure you. As someone already said - they are prey animals. Take a detour. Walk around. Give them a wide berth and don't make eye contact if you have any concerns. Be respectful of that farmers livelihood.
 

Magwood

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
See signature line for links to daily posts to blogs from many caminos
I have had numerous encounters with livestock on caminos over the years. I don’t enjoy it, but I have more or less gotten used to it and have usually been able to forge ahead. But I have on occasion scrambled up sharp brambly hills or walked quickly through ankle-high mud to avoid them. One of the posts that helped calm my nerves was this one from @Farmer John

I am reading @Magwood’s wonderful Camino Torres blog, and see that I can expect to walk through several large ranches where the livestock ranges freely. On one day, Magwood and her group actually went under a wire fence to avoid a bull/steer/? that was planted in front of them on the path. As she noted in her blog, there was no assurance that they weren’t just going over to another ranch where more livestock were roaming around. But they made it!

I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action, or if walking on by would have been ok. I know what the big toros bravos look like, and I know that I will not encounter them on any camino path, but I would like to get a better sense of how to react to the male livestock that I will undoubtedly encounter.

And btw, Magwood’s Torres blog is excellent. And with the opening of the Geira (as described in jungleboy’s equally excellent retelling), the Torres is now a feeder into two different routes. When you get to Braga, you can decide whether to continue to the Caminho Portugues Central (merging in Ponte de Lima), or whether to continue from Braga on the Geira, which goes through some of Portugal’s most beautiful natural areas. But first you have to get through the livestock. :p

Buen camino, Laurie
Haha! This thread explains a mystery! I checked the stats on my blog yesterday and was flummoxed by the number of hits that particular bull related post had received. And again this morning. Most peculiar I thought. 🤔. And when I clicked on this thread all became clear. Marilyn, my camino buddy on many occasions, absolutely loves petting any animal that will stick its head over a fence, be it cow, horse, dog or goat, but remove that fence and she is a gibbering wreck. I don’t have such issues so when on many occasions we have found ourselves in a situation of sharing our immediate space with large four-legged beasts I try to make her feel safer and protected by placing myself between woman and beast. I think she has been slightly reassured by this misplaced bravado, whereas I am fairly certain that I would not cause the beast to think twice about putting both of us in our place (wherever he chose that to be) if he so desired.
 

Gringazolana

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés
I would not take any chances. My best friend, a Costa Rican, was frustrated because some hooligans had struck more than once on her farm, cutting the fence and stealing cows from her family’s dairy farm. They tried fancy technology like better fencing and video cameras, but the only solution that stopped the thieves was putting the bull out with his girls to protect them. The bad guys learned a lesson and never came back. (They did leave fragments of clothing and tire tracks.) So, i would not look directly at a bull and would slowly move away.
 

SeaHorse

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015 (SJPDP-Finisterre), planning Norte
I wonder if any forum members can tell me whether the bull pictured in the blog was likely one that required evasive action.
Absolutely. Regard as dangerous any animal you don't personally know as friendly to yourself specifically. Especially one that weighs up to 10x more than you. Very easy to get broken bones.
What I didn't read in the mentioned blog is what did the ladies do after they saw the bull was most likely lost. Should have called police, they are all locals, they already know who the unhappy owner is.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
What I didn't read in the mentioned blog is what did the ladies do after they saw the bull was most likely lost. Should have called police, they are all locals, they already know who the unhappy owner is.
Thank you for this, SeaHorrse, I had totally misread the blog. @Magwood, was the bull located on the path shown earlier that has fences on both sides?

If that’s the case, I think you have given me my solution if I should encounter the same situation. Any bull loose on a camino path gets a call to the police from me.
 
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Last month, on our walks in the Yorkshire Dales ,and Pennine it was cows, and more cows in every field
Almost all of the herds had calves
I think they were so used to people walking and running through is that they didn’t bat an eyelid
We wouldn’t walk through so easily though if we’d had a dog

on one occasion we did see a bull but he was so busy munching the grass is that he didn’t even lift his head
We still hot footed it through the field though

The second time, there was a large herd waiting for us at a gate
A runner that had just passed through the gate said that there were two bulls there too!
Through the gate, we walked round them rather than through them and hoped that the bulls would be too exhausted to run after us!
Magwoods bull mind you, looks far fiercer than the ones we encountered ,
or maybe the English bulls are just happy with so many cows to keep them occupied

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I came across a young bull moose on Mt Katahdin at the end of the Appalachian Trail. Nature was calling and, as I was about to meander behind a boulder, out of the woods came this hot to trot bull—did I mention it was rutting season?? He stood ten feet in front of me on the path and toyed with me for fifteen minutes: back and forth across the path. I couldn’t take one step forward or backwards or he moved towards me. When he finally decided to move on ( he sensed a female of his own species was nearby) I knew he left snickering, knowing he had scared the daylights right out of me. Thankfully that was all!

On the Portugues, there was a trail through a farm filled with meandering cows and one bull. They lined the path on both sides. Nature was calling again. This bull knew not to get in the way of a woman with a full bladder and he graciously (??) stepped aside. The females were not as kind, but I barreled through.

I have since learned never to let any male—animal or human—stand in my way when I’m on a mission! It may come back to bite me someday, but…. As US President Teddy Roosevelt once said,”Speak softly and carry a big stick,” I follow that advise closely!
I'd be more afraid of a moose than a bull!
They stomp people to death on a pretty regular basis compare to bull attacks.
Not sure I agree with your philosophy.
To me, Wisdom is knowing when to stand your ground and knowing when to quietly retreat.
Hopefully, Darwin won't come knocking... but good luck and Buen Camino!
 
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peregrina2000

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Staff member
Almost all of the herds had calves
I think they were so used to people walking and running through is that they didn’t bat an eyelid
We wouldn’t walk through so easily though if we’d had a dog

on one occasion we did see a bull but he was so busy munching the grass is that he didn’t even lift his head
We still hot footed it through the field though


Cattle on their own are more likely to feel threatened than an animal that is close to other cattle.

As a result I would tend to avoid walking between two groups of cattle or between a solitary animal and the rest of the herd or between a calf and its mother.

I would tend to be cautious around an animal that was on its own.

Thanks to everyone for so many great responses, and I think I am parsing together a reasonable “game plan” for what are certain to be livestock encounters on my next camino.

— Any bull obviously out of its enclosure should get a call or text to alertcops. This is usually not a problem, but on the Olvidado I remember one stretch on which we just kept crossing over one of those cattle grates after another so we had no idea whether we were in or out of an enclosure!

— Walking through fields, pay attention to not get between mom and baby or solitary animal and herd.

— Try to go around herds, not through herds, which is usually possible. (except when hundreds are running up a hill towards you and you flatten yourself against the fence and wait for the shepherd on a scooter to come up behind them and reassure you, as they always do, that “no hacen nada.” This was on the new route into Carcaboso on the Vdlp).

I will try to avoid the strategy of raising sticks and looking fierce. :D

I used to be really terrified of walking through these fields, but what sort of got me over it and keeps lurking in the back of my mind, is, as @MaryB2624 pointed out, the thought that these animals are someone’s livelihood, not killer beasts waiting to attack human beings.
 
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Now that we have refreshed out strategies for livestock evasion, this is an great time to re-read A Bovine Incident - todo toro by @timr.
Very much worth reading again, gracias!

Your game plan sounds great, Laurie. My answer to that query of 'would you advance,' is it depends. If there were an easy way around, though, I'd certainly take it - as @Magwood did. It's better not to trust a bull as a baseline strategy than to be blasé.
 
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Anamiri

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Grew up on a farm.
I don't trust bulls.
I'd not push it if he w.re in my path.
I'd walk around.
I'm with you, I'm also a farm girl - I dont trust them either. Even if they aren't aggressive just the sheer size difference can get you hurt.
A few years ago my father (80 at the time) ended up with a broken arm after being flung around by two tame cows tussling. He was fixing a water pipe in a paddock, when one came up for a cuddle. Another one became jealous of the attention, and as she tried to knock the first one out of the way with her head so she could have her turn, Dad received a glancing blow which knocked him over and broke his arm.
An older calf (weaned) tried to get back in the shed to sneak milk as I was feeding the younger calves, and it stood on my foot, breaking a bone. Never underestimate the size, strength and weight of them - even when they're young.
If possible I always look for evasive, and non confrontational options with animals I dont know - and often even with ones I do know.

My rule of thumb is that the smaller bulls are not any safer, and usually worse. Jersey bulls are just naturally angry. They will rip up the ground, grumbling loudly, and head butting anything even when nothing is annoying them.
If I had to take a chance crossing a paddock with the beef bulls I would sneak through on a far corner, being prepared for a sprint. Jersey bulls, I wouldnt go near them.
All our animals are hand reared and used to people. Our Herefords are largely placid and friendly, but can get twitchy if provoked. Jersey bulls are just born bad tempered. Even at a year old, they are just little stroppy shits, they're cute as calves, then one day a switch goes on in their head.
When we were children one of our jersey bulls started stalking my sister and I around the farm just pushing gates over, and one night walking home from the school bus, he was waiting for us in the paddock out by the road - half the farm away from where he was supposed to be. They are calculating and sneaky. We dropped our school bags and ran the other way to a neighbours a km away, and Dad came to collect us on the tractor. The next day he shot the bull, as he knew it would continue to try and kill us.

.
 
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The only moose you will encounter in Spain is likely to be chocolate mousse. ☺️
I was responding to this comment :)

Lynn C O'Hara said:
I came across a young bull moose on Mt Katahdin at the end of the Appalachian Trail. Nature was calling and, as I was about to meander behind a boulder, out of the woods came this hot to trot bull—did I mention it was rutting season?? He stood ten feet in front of me on the path and toyed with me for fifteen minutes: back and forth across the path. I couldn’t take one step forward or backwards or he moved towards me. When he finally decided to move on ( he sensed a female of his own species was nearby) I knew he left snickering, knowing he had scared the daylights right out of me. Thankfully that was all!
 

Magwood

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Thank you for this, SeaHorrse, I had totally misread the blog. @Magwood, was the bull located on the path shown earlier that has fences on both sides?
Yes, the bull was stranded on the path with a field on one side - can’t remember what was on the other side. I’m guessing that the poor creature would have much preferred to be back in his field. We saw no one that we could report it to but I think that Aurelio may have made a phone call at some point, or perhaps he and the cyclist discussed a strategy to alert someone. Tbh I felt really sorry for him, he looked very sad.
 
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WOW what incredible responses. When I walk a section of the Via de la Plata (back in 2013) between Aljucen and Alcuescar I saw a number of larger Black bulls (they looked like the ones you see in the bull ring). I asked a fellow pilgrim (who was Spanish) and he confirmed my suspicions.
The bull in the photo looks more like one that will breed animals for eating, thus its probably more use to being around people. That said I would always treat a bull with caution. Cheers
 

hel&scott

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2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Some very good advice, especially from Doughnut. As a vegetarian former townie now living in rural NZ I amused my cockie (farmer) neighbours with my novel livestock skills.
My prize boar flops down to have his tummy rubbed and I move my daughters wayward Highland cattle by offering them lemons. But don't let thier apparent tameness fool you. My boars have tusks and the cattle have very large horns, all are sizeable beasts who will gamble (rush) at you and shake their heads, if you stand in the wrong place at the wrong time it can go very wrong very quickly and I don't let strangers in to pat them, by all means admire them from the safe side of the fence.
If you do have to cross a field with livestock as in many places on the Vdlp, then stick to the path, move quietly in a predictable manner, these stock are probably used to walkers and if you leave them alone, the will most likely just get on with things as well.
Cattle can be curious creatures and you may turn and find a line of them quietly following you, they may well figure you are going to lead them to fresh pasture. Don't freak out, just keep moving and make sure you close the gate after you. When we had more stock, my daughter used to lie down in the middle of a field and wait for the curious cows to come over and check her out, their warm breath and slobbering tounges were a sensory challenge as you had to keep still and be very careful getting up not to spook them. Not something I'd recommend on the Camino.
 
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domigee

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O
Always take care and use common sense, if you feel uncomfortable find an alternative route. Never, ever get between a cow and its calf.
Well, we had to, on the vdlP. After crossing what seemed liked kms of land full of cows, right at the end, near the gate, there was a calf and his mother. and we had to go in between. There was no other way. Neither moved. I remember shutting my eyes and thinking ‘that is it, we’re done for’ 😁
I would never walk that Camino again. 😱
 

Anamiri

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I have been attending the Aotearoa New Zealand International Film Festival over the past week and this beautiful film was one of several highlights: https://www.nziff.co.nz/nziff-2022/auckland/when-the-cows-come-home/

"Your cows are living in the moment and they remind me to live in the moment."

Andrew Johnstone

I highly recommend this film if you get a chance to see it.

There is a trailer here: https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/when-the-cows-come-home-2022
Thats why we were always discouraged from having too many pet calves - they then became 'forever cows', and had to be kept until they died naturally.
One of mine lived until 22. Left to their own devices, and kept healthy they do live a long time, and became resistant to taking direction from humans!

Sheep are a bit the same, my grandfather always cursed the grown pet lambs, as they caused havoc, leading the others astray - often into the garden.
 
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Cattle can be curious creatures and you may turn and find a line of them quietly following you, they may well figure you are going to lead them to fresh pasture. Don't freak out, just keep moving and make sure you close the gate after you
This.
Many are used to people moving them here and there - and so are happy to follow. So just calmly keep walking; don't run.

I had to add this photo of a bovine event that has been happening every year since the dawn of human time. Cows being moved up to summer pasture in the Alps. These are mostly Braunvieh cows, as placid as can be:
20220618_062058.jpg
Once the cows get up there, they can be 'fun' to maneuver around if you are walking across a cattle guard with a bunch of them on the other side:
20220614_115024.jpg
Keep calm and just push through is the advice local people offer. I've never encountered this kind of thing in Spain though, just large paddocks.
 
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At the suggestion of a forum memnber via PM,I want to make clear that the “toros bravos” (i.e., those bred for bullfighting) are heavily regulated, required to be confined, and too valuable to be wandering around on a camino path. If you have ever walked by a toro bravo farm (there are several on the Vdlp, for instance), you will see security cameras, heavy fences, and stern warnings to stay away. There is ZERO chance you will encounter a “toro bravo” walking through a field on any camino.

But for those of us who have no background with bull, other than the kind that is slung at many meetings I have attended in my day, we may not have the ability to make a good judgment about whether a particular bull/steer is too dangerous to walk past. That’s the guidance I’m hoping to get a bit more of here.
my "treat" item in my pack is a small pair of folding binoculars. Apart from gazing at the tweety birds and distant bits of architecture, I found that down on the Plata they came in very handy for gazing at suspect animals afar off in fields I had to cross. Irrespective of what was swinging at their nether ends, if it had horns, I avoided it :) Being forewarned, I could thus plan a safe route. Being long past the agile or nimble stage and unable to clamber thru barb wire fences and hedges, this could add some considerable distance to my route :) C'est la vie ! This could induce a vicious edge to my sense of humour and provoke me into dining on pieces of said animal for my evening meal. With chips and fried eggs of course :)

Walk soft. stay safe.

Samarkand.
 

RJM

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Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Absolutely. Regard as dangerous any animal you don't personally know as friendly to yourself specifically. Especially one that weighs up to 10x more than you. Very easy to get broken bones.
What I didn't read in the mentioned blog is what did the ladies do after they saw the bull was most likely lost. Should have called police, they are all locals, they already know who the unhappy owner is.
It all depends. Not all grazing land is bordered by fences. Some restrict the livestock movements by using cattle guards. That bull may have been exactly where he belonged and that fence was the border for neighboring property. Impossible to know if one's not a local. The section of the Frances just past San Juan de Ortega on the way to Ages one encounters loose livestock after crossing a cattle guard. No fences.
 
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Needing a livestock refresher course
Perhaps this may help.
Ferdinand_the_Bull_film_poster.jpg

[Wikipedia:
says the movie was an Oscar winner,
its article about the book is even more interesting, banned in Franco Spain.]
 
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norelle

Member
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Camino Frances (2011 April, 2014 March) San Salvador, Primitivo, Finisterre, Muxia (June 2015) Del Norte (Sept/Oct 2016)
These horses on the Olvidado recently may not worry most people, but I’m very afraid of them!
When it was obvious they were coming my way, I stepped off the path. I think they were curious but my very brave voice told them to go the other way. And they did!!
 

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Walton

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2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
Grew up in the country

In the 70 years of my life, I been attacked by a boar, magpies, a herd of cattle, a bull, numerous dogs, a goat, several roosters and a kangaroo. Quick action and thinking saved my skin every time except the recent rooster attack which resulted in two puncture wounds to a leg and a trip to hospital for treatment and infection control. And, in case you are wondering, that rooster is still alive!

I don't trust any animal or rooster, especially roosters which often prefer to attack from behind.

Even so, I'm not frightened of animals at all and give them respect, space and very careful observation when nearby.

There is a lot of good advice on this forum.

Some humans frighten me a lot more!

Buen Camino
 
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The bull in the blog was an "interested" bull, head up, ears facing item of interest. Menacing bulls will lower their heads, pin their ears down or back and may snort/stomp. Regardless, it is wise to follow all of the words of caution offered here.

I offer this to possibly alleviate a few future heart palpations if one encounters a similar situation. I've finished Hereford steers in the past. Steers lack the "undercarriage" apparatus and are generally interested in grazing. Again, always prudent to simply walk on by!
 
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Some great advice. Like anything treat them with respect regardless of "undercarriage" including a cow with calf. Haven't herd (pun intended) of any livestock injury incidents but have of dogs including some I patted on the vdp just before Merida who subsequently bit a pilgrim later that day.

The one beast I am always wary to encounter is a boar - be very cautious. But then there is a really dangerous beast we walkers encounter, often out of control, that is definitely best avoided - 🚴🚴🚴 !!
 
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The bull in the blog was an "interested" bull, head up, ears facing item of interest. Menacing bulls will lower their heads, pin their ears down or back and may snort/stomp.
Thank you, @Kobe. Bovine body language is a mystery to most of us.

Edit: I got curious and found some interesting links - basic bovine body language:
And here is a very useful illustration:
 
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Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I've been sanguine about animals encountered on the Camino, but after reading this thread I'm much more nervous! On the Vdlp I remember some trepidation when going through a herd of cows with calves, some of whom were separated by the path. I walked slowly and steadily, giving cows and calves plenty of time to get out of the way and to find each other.

This was a magic encounter with horses on the Hospitales route on the Primitivo. Minutes before I'd been walking with horse and foal, seen now further up the hill.


View attachment IMG_2788.mov
 
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I'm just glad a bulls undercarriages are in full view...no mistaking them for anything other than what they are.
Unless you're a townie! My mammy, may her days be blessed, was firmly of the conviction that if it had horns it was a bull and it was wise to leg it! Considering I was a Derry child and Derry was a cattle port in those days, it was wise to be alert. When herds were being driven through the town on their way to the docks, it was not uncommon for the horned ones to break free from the herd and go careering down side streets, scattering all before them like nine-pins! No one bothered to define which was cow or bullock, the bloody things were hell bent on mischief to the sound of slamming doors as the good folk dived into homes irrespective of who owned them :) Barking dogs and cursing drovers only added to the fun especially when a relative got locked out and screamed blue murder to get in :)
Just buy the binoculars, OK ? I am surprised the appropriate stick can not be bought in outdoor equipment shops :)

Walk soft . Stay safe.

Samarkand.
 

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