The incident occurred while the unnamed female holidaymaker, 45, was hiking in Tyrol’s Pinnistal valley in 2014.
A court in Innsbruck heard how the animals stampeded, most likely after they became agitated by the presence of the hiker’s dog.
The court has now found the farmer to be negligent, and ordered him to pay compensation to the victim’s husband and son.
Although the farmer insisted he had put up warning signs, the court ruled there were not enough and that, in any case, the footpath should have been fenced off from the herd.
But the ruling has angered many of the region’s farmers, who say it will become a threat to their livelihood in a region that attracts huge numbers of Alpine tourists.
The Tyrolean Chamber of Agriculture described the incident as “tragic” but said that it felt the verdict was “out of touch with reality”.
In a statement, it said: “The ruling is generating a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty among farmers, who are faced with the question of whether they should allow their cows to graze, or whether they should close off the pastures completely.
“Footpaths across meadows and pastures would have to be fenced off, and made inaccessible to walkers.
“An obligation to put up fences would be economically unreasonable for farmers and would, in many places, mean the end of pastoral farming.”
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