NEW calls have been made for free-roaming cattle in the New Forest to have their horns removed to protect the public.

A group of animal owners say the risk of walkers being attacked means all cattle grazing in the Forest should be de-horned, regardless of their breed.

The plea was made at the monthly Court of Verderers by three members of the same commoning family - Mark, Katie and Nicola Ferrett.

Mr Ferrett said: "This I know will be controversial but the commoners have to compromise and have a conscience about reducing the possibility of a human being being gored by a horn.

"This will show good intent from the commoning community and also will improve the value of their stock.”

Two years ago the Commoners' Defence Association advised its members that all cattle should be de-horned with exception of British Longhorn and Highland cattle because their horns were seen as a “breed characteristic”.

It followed an incident in which an 86-year-old woman was gored by a cow.

Dog owner Amelia Borelli was attacked near her home at Fritham after accidentally coming between a cow and her calf, which was hidden by bushes.

The cow ripped her jeans before plunging its horn into her leg.

Amelia spent a week in hospital and later called for more signs warning people to keep away from animals in the Forest.

The Verderers' clerk, Sue Westwood, said de-horning cattle turned out on the Forest was a “recommendation” and not a “requirement”.

She added: "Many commoners always de-horn their cattle to avoid any potential conflict with members of the public but also because animals are easier to manage generally when they don’t have horns.

"Cows with horns tend to be a little more argumentative because they have horns to back it up.”

However, Ms Westwood said it was unlikely the Verderers would ask for horns to be removed from Highland cattle and some breeds of British Longhorn, which were generally very placid.

She said: “I have never been made aware of any problems with Highland cattle. One may occasionally chase a dog if it was being bothered but even that is very rare.”