At times in the past, one bull has been the undisputed King of the herd, while if numbers are high bulls spend a lot of time trying to sort out who is boss. They challenge each other by calling, pawing the ground, and showing off their size and strength. They often fight, viciously, and occasionally to the death. So it is quite unusual for a bull to live as long as 12 years.
Most arguments are settled by displays – bellowing, pawing the ground, throwing earth and muck around. But sometimes things escalate. Between 1945 and 2005 eleven bulls and three females were recorded as having died as a result of injuries caused by other members of the herd, either through physical assault or fighting.
Most big wild animals have a rutting season. Chillingham cattle don’t, so the bulls have to be ready for action all year round.