Learning to “Speak Cow” as a Mountain Biker or Hiker: Part 1
Reading cattle body language can help you know what to do
- If you are biking, and you come upon a cow, and that cow looks up at you, you have entered their “zone of awareness.” The cow is aware you are there but you have not yet approached close enough to get it to flee (i.e., the flight zone).
- This is an excellent time to slow down, even stop, and perhaps get off your bike. Remember, slow and calm can go a long way to not causing stress.
- If the cow keeps grazing, that cow is probably unaffected by your presence (see photo below).
- If the cow starts to move away from you, take a step back away from the cow. This signals a reward for the cow, and will help communicate you are not a threat and encourage the cow to keep walking away from you.
“As most of us require pay for our work, cattle also require a paycheck. Relief of pressure is part of their paycheck—a big part.” Steve Cote, author of Stockmanship: A powerful tool for grazing lands management
1) Smith, B. 1998. Moving ’em: a guide to low stress animal handling. The Graziers Hui.
Interested in learning more about animal behavior?