Blog: New Forest Cattle
Updated: Nov 26, 2022
You'll find them down the track or around the corner at our forestpalms.com holiday let studio.
Sometimes the cows come down our track .. eat all the hedges etc, love em .. but do be wary. You’ll also see cows round the corner on the green and many other places in the park boundary.
New Forest cows spend a lot of the summer months grazing throughout the forest. There are 3,000 cattle grazing the forest during the summer, released onto the open commons and heathland by the Commoners, people who have rights to depasture their animals on the land.
The best way to see New Forest cattle is by taking a stroll along some of the fantastic New Forest walking routes near us. You can often spot them grazing on the land or around one of the watering holes. Ones near us can be sometimes seen eat out of the road salt grit bins!
There are roughly a dozen different breeds of cattle in the forest including Highland Cattle, which are more resilient than your average Friesian cow (these can often be spotted in the Brockenhurst area) plus Galloway and Hereford cross breeds, hardy breeds which can tolerate the New Forest winter.
Calves are sometimes born on the forest however commoners usually take their cows back to their holdings before the are due to calve just in case of any problems. Once they are old enough, you will see calves out on the forest with their mothers. Bulls however are not allowed to roam on the forest.
Cows are typically gentle and shy in nature but they are notoriously protective of their offspring, therefore always keep a safe distance. This ensures not only the safety of the animals but visitors too as some breeds of cows have large horns, which can cause serious injury. Aggression from cattle is rare. However, a cow which has recently given birth is very protective so please keep yourself and dogs well away to avoid causing distress to the mother.
For their safety and your own, please leave the animals alone - although owned and cared for by local people called commoners, they are unpredictable and best treated as wild. Please don’t feed or touch them; there is plenty of natural food and it’s best that they don’t come to rely on people’s attention. They may look friendly but they can bite and kick, especially when with young.
Cows roam the New Forest freely and will often step out in front of traffic with no warning; it is important that you slow down whilst driving through the Forest and that you are aware of any wildlife around you.
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