These days most farmers have a bull running with their cows. Bulls are a dangerous animal especially in mating season. Bulls cause over 50% of livestock related deaths on Irish farms. No matter what kind of bull a farmer has, they are potential killers even, seemingly quiet bulls. Farmers along with people handling bulls must treat them with caution and respect at all times. The older the farmer the more the risk due to reduced mobility and speed.
A Bulls temperament changes as it matures, from playful aggression as a yearling to defensive, territorial aggression as a 2-3 year old. People handling bulls should be very vigilant at all times and never turn their back on a bull. They should be fully aware of the dangers when handling bulls and properly trained. All bulls need to be ringed in the nose when 10 months old and the ring should be examined regularly.
From an early age the bull should be used to the presence of people and associate them with things such as feeding, grooming and exercise. Without exception in any case, have an aggressive bull sent to the abattoir. When a bull is taken from a pen, he should be led using suitable equipment (head chains, bull poles and leading ropes). Always have help handling a bull and never attempt to handle a bull on your own. The farmer should have other people available to help when handling a bull.
A Bull in an Open Field
The risk of farmers been attacked by stock bulls running with the herd is at its greatest during the summer months, when the most mating is occurring. Bulls think you are going to take the cows away and become over protective of them. Bulls are more agile and quick than you expect, with a fair turn of speed. Farmers should try not to have a bull grazing in a field where there is a right of way or where members of the public may have access.
Every farm where there is a bull grazing should have a warning sign of the bull’s presence on entrance to farm or on gates. Fields in which a bull is kept should be securely fenced and gates should be well maintained. Aggressive bulls on farms should not be allowed to run with the herd or be kept on the farm. By keeping aggressive bulls farmers are greatly enhancing the risk of fatalities. Farmers should consider using a tractor or other suitable farm vehicle (i.e. Jeep) as a mobile sanctuary when you need to go into a field where a bull is running with the cows.
If cornered by a bull, try not to move too fast but to slowly move out of the bull’s ‘flight zone’. If you turn and run from the bull it invites being chased. They will usually be faster than you. If there is no refuge point to escape then stepping sideways out of his best vision will confuse him as to where you have gone. There is no bull that can be trusted and all bulls will be unpredictable at some time. This applies across all bulls even to young bulls and seemingly quiet bulls.
The requirement to keep a bull for breeding purposes can be largely eliminated if artificial insemination is used for all mating. This is by far the safest option.