The Cows of the New Forest
New Forest Cattle roam the forest just like the New Forest ponies. The common right of pasture allows Commoners the right to graze cattle on the New Forest. On average there are 2257 cattle depastured onto the Forest annually. Bulls are not turned out onto the Forest. The cattle are bred for meat. Like the ponies the cattle are important for the conservation of the New Forest. Their grazing allows for certain species of flora and fauna to flourish.
There are several breeds on the Forest, Galloway and Hereford crossbreds being the most popular, as they are particularly hardy. The cows can be out in the Forest during the winter and in all weather.
Highland cattle with their long horns and shaggy coats can often be seen in the Brockenhurst area.
Generally the New Forest cattle are not aggressive, however it is always best to stay safe and give the animals space. The cows can easily get upset by dogs especially when young calves are around. It is against the bye-laws for cattle (or any other stock) to be fed or petted by the public.
In 2012 there were 3175 cattle on the Forest. 7 of which were killed and 5 injured in road traffic accidents. Cows have zero road sense, they will step out onto the road while staring at the vehicle coming towards it. Be very careful while driving in the Forest, especially at night.
New Forest Cow Photo Gallery
Off the Forest
The cattle are normally allowed to roam throughout the year but sometimes they are taken off the forest in the pannage season. Like the ponies, the cattle can be poisoned by the fallen acorns. Pregnant cows are often taken in by the commoners when they are near to giving birth. This allows the commoners to provide assistance during the birth.
The New Forest carries a high risk of Bovine Babesiosis (Redwater, Tick Fever), a tick-borne disease of cattle. Cattle born and bred on the Forest tend to be immune.
A herd of cattle can do a lot of damage to private gardens in the Forest. They are experts at finding a way through fences and hedges but it is the responsibility of the property holder to keep fencing well maintained.