A FARMER died after he was crushed by a cow which had just calved and was acting in its true nature to protect its new born, a coroner heard.

The cow is believed to have butted 81-year-old Eric Coates as he attempted to give medication to the calf's navel, a usual procedure after birth.

Mr Coates, of Rainscar Farm, Stainforth, suffered a severe crush to his chest and despite a dash by Yorkshire Air Ambulance to the Royal Preston Hospital on Wednesday, April 12, he died the same day.

His distressed son Graham told Craven coroner Rob Turnbull: "When I went into the shed the cow was standing licking the calf. I think he (his father) had gone over to treat the calf's navel and she thought it was a threat and nature kicked in."

"The cow was an experienced mother - it was not her first calf - she was not nasty or malicious.

"It was a standard procedure to treat the naval with iodine but it was usual to wait until the cow had finished licking her clean and dry."

He had checked the cow in the morning and judged he had time to feed the sheep before returning to see if she was ready to calve.

When he did get back to the shed he saw his father down on "all fours" struggling to breathe as if winded and the cow had calved. His mother was also present and said that the cow had got him.

Mr Coates helped his father into a car and spoke to him again about his condition, his father still struggling for breath and saying it was getting worse and he thought he had broken ribs.

Within ten minutes they were at the GP surgery in Settle where he was examined followed by a call for the air ambulance to transfer him to Preston.

He returned to see his mother and tell her what had happened but by the time he reached the hospital later his father had died.

Mr Turnbull said: "Mr Coates was fit and well and still working on the farm. When he saw the cow had calved he went to treat it but for whatever reason the cow turned on him and struck him." He recorded a verdict of accidental death.