‘No such thing as a quiet cow’: Farmer vigilance urged during calving season

With spring calving season now underway on many Irish farms, farmers are being called on to be particularly vigilant to ensure their own safety.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Farm Family chairperson Caroline Farrell made the calls as the busy calving season progresses.

Heifers and cows can be unpredictable at calving time and may hit out without warning, Farrell warned.

Over the past 10 years, livestock have accounted for 20% of farm fatalities, with the calving cow involved in over half of these fatalities.

Commenting, the IFA chairperson said: “The calving cow is the most dangerous animal on Irish farms and should not be trusted.

“Spring is the busiest time of year on many Irish farms – farmers work around the clock, often needing to be up several times a night to check on animals.

“This can lead to severe tiredness, restricting a farmer’s ability to react quickly,” Farrell warned.

The IFA has developed some useful tips for farmers to help keep them safe, including:
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a neighbour with a difficult cow or heifer;
  • Know your limitations – you might not be as agile as you were this time last year;
  • Make sure the calving gate is operating properly;
  • Make sure the calving jack and ropes are fit for purpose;
  • The maternal instinct of a cow is to protect her calf, especially after calving – make sure all dogs and children are out of sight before entering the pen;
  • Make sure the cow is correctly locked into the calving gate;
  • Ensure calving pens have appropriate lighting; and
  • Remember there is no such thing as a quiet cow.

More details on farm safety can be found on the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) website here.