That was the explanation when I received a call from a dairy farmer asking for help.

Hopefully you have never had such an experience with a cow or bull yourself.  After all, it is an unequal battle: “man versus cattle”.

Although some “cowboys” among you will never want to admit this.

My experience with both cows and bulls is that they do not just spontaneously attack people.

There is always a clear reason, and before the animal attacks, it has already warned you several times through body language.

We must of course recognize these signals as a warning and be willing and / or able to respond to them appropriately.



As a result of centuries of selection and intensive contact with humans, a number of behavioral characteristics in cattle have changed radically.

Despite intensive selection for general behavioral traits, cattle can individually differ greatly in temperament.


People who know me, know that in my opinion the environmental influences are of much greater significance on animal behavior, than the degree of heredity for the character trait.


A good indicator of behavior in cattle is how they (repeatedly) behave in a treatment box.

The easy-to-handle and docile cattle stand quietly and move slowly during a treatment. After the treatment, they leave the treatment box calmly.


The more restless and nervous cattle try to return, away from the treatment box and are more difficult to treat. The tail movements are much more active, and with the opening of the box they are quickly gone.


Nervous and impatient cattle clearly resist with a lot of tail movements. Such animals repeatedly push the front of the box because they want to get out. They immediately run away when they leave the box.


Wild and very nervous cattle resist fiercely. They vibrate and jump, sometimes with foam on their mouths. Violent tail movements, urination and fattening takes place. They remain wild when they leave the box.


Nervous cattle don't just behave wildly, they resist aggressively. This aggression is intensified if the treatment is done by one person. Partly for this reason and for safety reasons, this type of cattle should always be treated in the presence of a second person. When leaving the box, these animals remain wild and fierce.

Finally, the real problem cases: "very aggressive" cattle.

These animals are already extremely nervous and wild when herded into a narrower space. Head up, white of the eye clearly visible, sniffing, these are typical features.

These characteristics are a warning, an alarm and an omen of jumping up and flight behavior. The subsequent signal is tense in the shoulders and head down. Horned cattle stand menacingly with the horns horizontal to slightly down.  A clear signal of attacking behavior.


This brief summary and description indicates that recognizing body language before catching and restraining cattle is very important and can prevent accidents. Anxious and nervous cattle clearly behave differently than usual. Mainly the attitude of the head clearly reflects the mood and the intentions of the cow.

The more the head is carried towards the ground, and the more the horns are raised, the more aggressive the animal is.

Cattle with the head up are very tense. They appear frozen, but are ready to either flee immediately or fight their "attacker".

The upward-facing head gives the cow a panoramic view of approximately 340 º.

“Temperament full” cattle are quickly seen as aggressive by those who cannot or do not want to recognize the signals.

These animals then go to slaughter, because they are "unmanageable". That is understandable, safety for humans and animals is important. It is best to keep those cows that suit you and your farm.

Nevertheless, you can regain and keep temperament full cattle under control through a targeted and professional approach.

Despite the opinion of some farmers who keep claiming the opposite.


“The farmer can be recognized by the cattle", says farmer's wisdom.

And even that is still questioned by some farmers ...