Farm Ireland
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Saturday 17 November 2018

16 golden rules for handling cattle safely

Over half of livestock related fatalities involves cows or heifers

Watch cattle for signs of aggressiveness and cull any particularly difficult cattle - it’s not worth the risk.
Watch cattle for signs of aggressiveness and cull any particularly difficult cattle - it’s not worth the risk.
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Some 28 deaths in the past 10 years were livestock-related fatalities, according to a Health and Safety Authority report.

Of these 28 deaths, heifer and cow related fatal incidents dominate the board with over half (15) of the tragic incidents involving heifers or cows. Another four involved horses, while four more involved bulls on the farm.

Taking precaution before carrying out some of the daily tasks on a farm, is what can stop farmers becoming another statistic, according FRS Training Manager, Jim Dockery.

With calving time being the main danger area around cows and heifers, having an escape route in the calving pen is essential to keep workers safe at calving time, according to Jim. He said that heifers and cows can be very protective at calving time and may lash out unexpectedly.

“It can be as simple as putting something in between you and the animal, making an escape route and not just rushing through the job,” he explained at the recent Millstreet dairy show.

“Having an extra escape route out of the calving pen, or simply just having a gate in between you and the cow can protect you,” explained the Roscrea based Training Manager.

Golden rule when handling cattle according to the Health and Safety Authority:

·        Work out an escape route or refuge area in advance of working with cattle.

·        Know and understand the basics of cattle behaviour.

·        Make sure farmers handling cattle are competent and agile.

·        Use bulls that produce docile offspring.

·        Maximise the use of Artificial Insemination, to reduce the need for a stock bull.

·        Be careful around cows that are calving or that have new-born calves, they are more likely to attack.

·        Remember that cows that are bulling are unpredictable.

·        Try to keep cattle calm when handling them.

·        Use a stick or paddle to assist in directing cattle.

·        Debud calves early to prevent horn growth.

·        Watch cattle for signs of aggressiveness and cull any particularly difficult cattle -it’s not worth the risk.

·        Exercise caution when administering veterinary treatments.

·        Protect yourself against biohazards with proper personal hygiene.

·        Wear suitable protective clothing and footwear.

·        Use well designed facilities. Invest in your safety.

·        Keep ground surfaces clean and clear of trip hazards, as far as possible.

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