Farm Safety Week: Handling Livestock


Teagasc research indicates that 65% of all farm injuries are livestock related.

Farm Safety Week: Handling Livestock

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Teagasc research indicates that 65% of all farm injuries are livestock related.

As part of Farm Safety Week, each day we will be highlighting farm safety tips in the hopes of raising awareness and reducing the number of accidents on Irish farms.

Farming has one of the poorest safety records of any employment sector in Ireland. So far this year, 12 people have lost their lives in farm accidents.

This year’s Farm Safety Week campaign message is: “Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice”.

Teagasc research indicates that 65% of all farm injuries are livestock related. From 2008 to 2017, 13% of all farm fatalities were due to livestock.

The increase in livestock related accidents and deaths are attributable to inadequate handling facilities on farms, taking risks when dealing with livestock, less contact between farmer and livestock and inadequate attention given to breeding for docility.

Farm Safety Week 2018 is focusing on “when things go right”. Here are some good-practice tips from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for when dealing with livestock.

ALWAYS

  • Make sure handlers are competent and agile;
  • Work out an escape route in advance of working with cattle;
  • Know and understand the basics of cattle behaviour;
  • All bulls are potentially dangerous. Always, fit a ring and chain to a stock bull;
  • A well-designed bull pen is essential for managing a bull when it is away from the herd;
  • Maximise the use of AI to minimise the number of bulls required on farm;
  • Use bulls that produce docile offspring;
  • Cows, and in particular heifers, with new-born calves pose a significant risk;
  • Keep the calf between you and the heifer or cow and have an escape route planned. Do not turn your back on the cow;
  • Remember that cows that are on-heat are unpredictable;
  • Try to keep cattle calm when handling them;
  • Use a stick to assist in directing cattle;
  • Disbud calves early to prevent horn growth;
  • Watch for warning signs of animal aggressiveness, especially bulls and newly-calved cows;
  • Cull fractious and difficult cattle as soon as possible;
  • Exercise caution administering veterinary treatments;
  • Use well-designed handling facilities;
  • Regularly check and maintain facilities such as the crush, calving gate, gate latches and fences.

Prevention of livestock-related farming accidents will be achieved by focusing on the handling facilities on the farm, the type of livestock kept and the behaviour and competency of the person working with the livestock.

Further reading on the safe handling of livestock can be found on the Health and Safety Authority website.

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