Happy Hikers Meet Happy California Cows

Originally published on SolanoLandTrust.com By Aleta George
Tips for sharing the trail with bovines
Did you grow up around cattle? Not everyone did, and not all of us are comfortable hiking with cows on the trail. Yet, hiking on trails that have cattle can be a great experience.
It is likely that you will encounter cattle on Solano Land Trust properties. Grazing serves as an important conservation tool, helps to suppress fire fodder, and provides an income to our conservation work. Armed with a few do’s and don’ts, your bovine encounters can be stress free.
These tips are taken from “Sharing Open Space: What to Expect from Grazing Livestock,” published by the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The complete brochure is available for download.

  • When you see cattle on the trail, continue to move past them. Don’t stay in their presence. Move slowly and use a normal speaking voice. Don’t approach them from behind (their blind spot). Don’t try to take selfies with them.
  • Cattle are more sensitive to sound than we are. Loud voices or high-pitched sounds can scare them. Keep your voice low and you will calm them.
  • Don’t get between a mother and her calf, and steer clear (pun intended!) of mother cows and their young. Give a wide berth by walking around them even if it means going off trail.
  • If an animal appears to be nervous or agitated, step back. Don’t make quick movements that could agitate the cattle.
  • A relaxed cow is a happy cow and will be chewing its cud or lying down. A nervous cow will lift its head so that it can decide its next move based on perceived danger. Step back and give the animal space.
  • Suisun Hill Trail at Rush Ranch is the only Solano Land Trust property that allows dogs. When on this trail with your dog, keep it leashed and under complete control at all times. Cows view dogs as a threat. They are prey of other animals the same size as dogs and are frightened by them. If your dog gets loose and chases a cow, don’t intervene.

Rest assured that the ranchers choose non-aggressive cattle for our propertiesHappy Hikers Meet Happy California Cows where people and cattle share the land. Any cow that shows aggressive behavior will be removed.
Photo credits in order of appearance: Lori Auker, Dave Reider