A coroner says the death of a two-year-old killed after a cow stepped on his head is a lesson to all parents about child supervision.

Jack Tatham was just over two months shy of his second birthday in August last year when he was told by his parents to stay in an enclosed area of a shed while they went to attend to cows which had just arrived on their farm in Waimatua, near Invercargill.

But when his father Jimmy Tatham went back to get Jack, he was gone from the room, having been able to open the door.

He found Jack soon after inside a fence with cows, unresponsive.

Jack was taken to Invercargill Hospital with a head injury consistent with being stood on by a cow.

He was transferred to the Dunedin Hospital neurology ward but efforts to save him were unsuccessful.

Mr Tatham had told the hearing that Jack could open doors and had access to the whole of the inside area, believing there was nothing there he could hurt himself on.

However, he instead went almost directly to the pen where the cows were.

Dunedin Coroner David Crerar said he couldn't attribute any blame to Jack's parents.

"Although it may be said the parents of Jack were remiss in not being in active supervision of him at all times, there must be a reasonable limit to their duties and responsibilities," he said.

"The tragic circumstances of the death do, however, serve as a lesson to all who have custody of vulnerable infants.

"A child who is unable to perform his, or her, own risk assessment needs to be constantly supervised by a responsible adult to ensure that no harm is created to them."

NZ Newswire

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