What are the rules of the road when moving cattle?

In some parts of the country the movement of cattle on a public road provides neighbours with the opportunity to have a chat or give each other a dig out.

However, the reality is that farmers who have their cattle on a public thoroughfare hold a high level of legal responsibility – and it’s not just in relation to the animals themselves, but also to other road users as well.

AgriLand spoke to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), and with the health and safety officer at Mayo Co. Council about the rules governing the movement of cattle on roads and the ways in which farmers can protect themselves.

Noel Gibbons, health and safety officer, Mayo, Co. Council, pointed out that farmers who drive cattle along a road need to ensure that they identify and manage risk in order to avoid potentially costly legal consequences.

“Use road signs to warn other users that cattle are on the road,” he advised.

To avoid liability, you must ensure that you use all reasonable care to prevent the animals from causing harm or damage and whether you have acted reasonably will be judged by the standards of the ordinary man.

“If permanent signs are needed at regular crossing places, you should approach your local council; one type of sign to provide is the flap folding sign which can be opened/closed as necessary.

“Once the cattle have left the road, ensure that signs are placed to warn motorists of any mud or dung which has been deposited on the road by the cattle and take steps to ensure that the road is cleaned after use.”

Mr. Gibbons went on to say that farmers who do not have their cattle under sufficient control on a road could be held negligible should a difficulty arise.

Assess the number of people needed to manage the cattle and their roles in the process; at least one person should be at the front of the cattle to warn road users.

“This means that you would be responsible for any damage or injury caused to other road users or their property, and in practical terms, it could mean that you have to pay for the damage to a car to be repaired or to settle a personal injury claim if a passerby was injured,” he continued.

“To avoid liability, you must ensure that you use all reasonable care to prevent the animals from causing harm or damage and whether you have acted reasonably will be judged by the standards of the ordinary man.

“You will also need people to open and close gates and, above all, you need to ensure you have enough people to keep the herd under control,” he concluded.