Bulls and their "manual" (part 3)

Never play butting games with calves!

It is very cute when they are young, but all the more dangerous once they grow up.

Never let a bull calf push his head up against you!

Correct this immediately and have him stand back.

You can stroke or caress your calf, but do it correctly. Then stroke him under the chin, on the back or on the withers (shoulder).

You can pet him almost anywhere, but stay away from the head.

Pressure on this area will activate the nerves present there and will encourage butting.



The major causes of bull attacks are mistaken identity or improper behavior that has been learned.

A bull will perform a broadside threat prior to attack. He will stand sideways so the person or other bull can see how big and powerful he is.

In such a situation, the person may just back slowly away from the bull.

NEVER RUN away and do not turn your back on him.


In dairy farms where bulls run loose in the cow pens, managers should be trained to notice aggressive postures.

The bull should just move away along with other cows when the milkers approach.

A bull that does a broadside threat to milkers should be slaughtered immediately.

Even if a bull calf is reared properly with other cattle, an adult bull can never be trusted, and is usually safer if he spends most of his adult life penned with other animals.

Bulls that are penned alone for long periods of time may be more likely to attack people.

However, steers and heifers can be safely penned alone, although this is not desirable from an animal welfare perspective.


Understanding cow and bull behavior will help to reduce accidents. There is no way that cattle can be made perfectly safe, but the use of behavioral principles will reduce the risk. Attacks by bulls are the number one cause of fatalities which occur while handling livestock.

Dairy bulls are often more dangerous than beef breeds. 


Source text and photo (Blog), Ronald Rongen. Photo Marga Fogt