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Livestock Has Broken Onto My Land, What Are My Rights?

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"I run a small farm, and cattle from a neighbouring landowner can be found in my field quite regularly, causing damage to my fencing. What are my rights?"

The Animals Act 1971 gives a landowner/occupier power to deal with livestock that comes onto their land. It also makes an owner or person in possession of livestock strictly liable for damages caused by their animals’ trespassing.

These situations can often be dealt with simply with a phone call to the owner of the straying animals. Keeping safe, calling the police and finding the livestock’s owner should be a priority.

Under The Animals Act you can detain the livestock, and in certain conditions, sell it. This is something you might consider if you do not know who owns the livestock. If you detain the livestock you must treat all animals with reasonable care and provide ample food and water.

You must also give notice to either the owner or to an officer in charge of a local police station within 48 hours of detaining the livestock, so we advise keeping a log of when the livestock was detained and when food and water was provided.

When the livestock owner offers to collect the detained animals you should return them. However, if the livestock has caused damage to your land, or your boundary fence, you should log an estimated value of the damage. In some scenarios, damage may be better dealt with by a civil claim. This can be a complex area of law, so please seek tailored advice from an experienced Solicitor.

For more information on this topic or to speak to our expert Rural Practice team on any Rural matters get in touch by emailing or call 03333 208644.

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation. This content does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only.