Billy Bull’s Antics

Today has been a Wilden Marsh Volunteer Workday, and we worked the same area as the cattle: the southern marsh entrance. It poured with rain at the start of the day, cleared up for a while and then rained, on and off, throughout the afternoon.

The cattle avoided us most of the day, but as soon as the volunteer day ended and I was left working on my own, they paid me a visit. 

I saw the herd approach, led by Billy Bull. The herd stopped to graze around the sluice, where I had been working. Billy, though, strode purposely onwards towards me with an expression that gave nothing away, but his swagger, and the fact that his eyes were fixed firmly on mine, told me that he was looking for trouble and that he would be getting too close to me again – and he did! He all but nudged me in the stomach with his nose. I called him a cheeky bull and stamped my foot hard on the ground, causing him to back-off smartish. Billy then turned his attention to my lunch spot and folding stool. When Billy doesn’t understand what he’s dealing with, he tests it with tongue, nose, and horns.

The first thing Billy heads for is my pitch fork; he licks it, pushes it, and horns it. He moves onto my stool; he licks it, pushes it with his nose, horns it, and tosses it around a few times. Investigating my jacket, he licks it, smells it, and horns it. My gloves fall on his head, startling him; the jacket falls and completely covers his horns and head. Now Billy really panics! He paws the ground, bucks his head and drives his horns and my jacket into the soil; he frees himself from the jacket, tosses it in the air a few times, and ends up with his head covered in cut thistles. He calmly re-joines the herd and takes his frustration out on them. Rose rushes up behind Billy and horns him hard in his rear end, banishing him grunting and groaning from the herd. The cows, and Rose in particular, won’t put up with Billy’s antics.

Earlier in the day Andy Harris, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s  Northern Reserves Officer (my boss) visits us. We all walk to the North Pond Sluice to check the water levels. As we chatted at the gate, the cattle joined us – they were inquisitive, but behaved themselves admirably. Bill Foxall, a marsh volunteer, thought the cattle were cute and tried to stroke Billy Bull. If I wanted to stroke any of the cattle, Billy Bull wouldn’t be my choice. Fortunately, Billy Bull walked away and didn’t try to horn Bill Foxall. If Bill Foxall had witnessed Billy Bull’s antics this afternoon, I doubt he would try stroking the bull again. My advice to everyone, apart from those used to handling these beasts, is don’t try stroking Billy Bull! Billy Bull is a great lad, and I find him very entertaining, but he is a bull; he gets frustrated when he doesnt get his way, if you know what I mean.




10 Comments on “Billy Bull’s Antics

    • Thank you.

      It’s the manner in which a person perceives the risks when receiving a greeting from a bull like Billy that can make an encounter scary.

      When Billy makes a bee-line for me, I know his intention is to greet me. If he were able to speak he would probably say something along the lines of: ‘Hello mate! My name is Billy Bull, and I’m the boss of this herd! What are your intentions?’ Of course Billy is not actually thinking this, he is reacting to one of many pre-installed hard-wired programs that Mother Nature has installed in his brain. I also know Billy’s modus operandi, which helps me judge his mood. I know to leave him well alone when he repeatedly paws the ground, because in doing this he is making out the battleground. When Billy repeated tosses his head at me, I know he is asking me, in the strongest possible terms, to retreat. As I mentioned in this post, Billy pushes, sniffs and licks before finally testing a potential opponent, or me, with his horns. I don’t give Billy the chance to push, let alone escalate his behaviour towards horning. Now Billy acts in this way not out of malice or bad temper, he trying to communicate his masculinity and strength in the only way he knows how. He wants know if I am a risk to him or the cows today.

      The degree of agitation the bull might show depends on how much testosterone is coursing through his veins, or whether he has just been rejected by his current ladylove. Either way, a bull is a bull, and he should not be trusted or provoked.

      With regard to running away from a charging bull? If you run away from charging cattle, they are likely to chase you. Remember my post about the young boys and the herd of cattle on the other side of the river: https: //


      • Thank you Mike for your explanation. Very usefull information. I just read your post ‘Bullocks’ and laughed out loud. At least now I know what to do when I run into cattle like that. I will just let them be.


  1. Good advice, although I could never resist petting docile Hereford bulls, I think it is best to form a relationship first. With regard to cattle in general, on the whole they tend to chase your dog not you, so the advice is to let the dog off the lead and take its chances, I believe. I have only been chased once by a herd of cattle and once I had thrown the (heavy) dog over the fence they all calmed down and I petted them …

    Liked by 1 person

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