A man crushed by cattle has been airlifted to hospital from the Matamata saleyards.

The Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance was called to retrieve the 54-year-old Waharoa man after the accident today.

He had been herding cattle up a ramp and on to a truck when one of the animals turned and rushed back down.

The man was thrown from the ramp and landed head-first at the bottom.

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He suffered head and chest injuries and was flown to Waikato Hospital in the care of Hamilton-based St John Ambulance paramedics.