THE Farm Safety Partnership is urging farmers to ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ when working with cows and heifers around calving time.
Animals are one of the top three causes of major injury and death on local farms. In the past 10 years, since 2011, there have been 18 deaths caused by animals on our farms across Northern Ireland, nine of which involved cows in calf or newly calved cows.
There are many other incidents which are unreported where farmers suffer more severe to lesser injuries in animal attacks and these incidents can put a huge strain on the farmer and their families.
Handling cattle always involves a risk of injury from crushing, kicking, butting or goring. The risk during calving time is increased for many reasons, for example if the work involves cattle that are not handled frequently and the heightened hormonal state of the cow around calving time. However, having suitable handling facilities and competent people working with the animals can help to ensure cattle handling at calving time can be carried out in relative safety.
You should NEVER underestimate the risk from cattle, even with good safety measures in place.
NEVER be complacent, ALWAYS be on your guard and REMEMBER at calving time cows and heifers are predictably unpredictable and can turn on you in an instant.
The following checklist should help you and others stay SAFE around calving time:
n watch for the warning signs of animal aggression;
n plan an escape route or refuge in advance of handling livestock;
n take extra care around cows and heifers with newborn calves;
n remember, that cows that are on heat are unpredictable;
n use a head gate to restrain a cow/heifer when checking the calf;
n try to have help available when calving a cow or heifer;
n try to keep cattle calm when working with them;
n cull any cattle as soon as possible that are showing signs of ongoing aggression;
n protect yourself against disease with appropriate personal hygiene.
n turn your back on a cow or a heifer around calving time;
n put yourself or a colleague at risk with cattle;
n stress or arouse cattle unnecessarily;
n beat or shout at cattle unnecessarily – they remember bad experiences.
n For more information about safe handling of livestock around calving time please contact the HSENI helpline on 0800 0320 121 or visit www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/animals-safety-during-calving
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