Two crazed cows who mauled and bit a farmer as he tried to separate them from their calves were likely beef cows trying to protect their offspring, a veterinary scientist says.
The farmer was trying to separate the cows and calves at his farm on Waiheke Island, about 16km from downtown Auckland, when two of the cows pushed him into either a fence or a wall.
He was bitten by at least one of the cows in the incident.
Massey University senior lecturer in production animal health, Dr Richard Laven, told NZ Newswire the cows were likely beef cattle as these are more attached to their young compared to dairy cows.
This is because dairy cows spend just one day with their calves compared to those used for beef which are with their calves for up to a few months.
"The cows are there to protect the calves so they've attacked the person doing the separating," Dr Laven said.
"With beef cattle separating out cows from calves can be a dangerous occupation because the cows can often react badly and decide they are going to attack the person doing it."
This generally involves the cow charging, pushing and on rare occasions biting, he says.
Vet students at Massey University are warned of the dangers of separating calves during training.
The farmer was flown to Auckland Hospital with serious injuries but has since been discharged.