Farmers have been challenged to improve livestock handling systems, in order to make them safer and more efficient, on the fourth day of the Farm Safety Week initiative.

Many farmers never stop to consider why animals behave as they do and, more importantly, what this behaviour could mean to their personal safety, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Generally, a farmer learns how to handle livestock from watching others and from personal experiences growing up on the farm.

This can possibly lead to some farmers practicing unsafe animal handling and restraint methods.

Most animal incidents are not fatal, but numerous men, women and children are needlessly injured every year due to a lack of safety awareness, the IFA added.

Broken bones, crushed and mashed limbs, work absences and unnecessary medical expenses are some of the results of livestock-related incidents.

The President of the IFA, Joe Healy, explained that handling cattle always involves risks; the risk of being hurt physically by an animal that is frightened or has been startled, as well as the risk of being hurt due to the misuse of equipment or equipment that is poorly maintained.

“Over the course of this week, we have worked with our partners to educate and inspire a drive to improve agriculture’s poor safety record.

“Today it’s all about animals. Livestock can be unpredictable, something that even the most experienced farmer can’t completely plan for,” he said.

‘Many livestock accidents not directly related to the animals’

Meanwhile, Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation – the charity behind Farm Safety Week UK and Ireland – added that farming is a highly rewarding industry, but it is still one of the riskiest.

Working safely with livestock involves much more than being ‘careful’ around recently calved cows or cantankerous bulls.

“In fact, many of livestock accidents are not directly related to the animals themselves, but caused by improper use of equipment – or poorly maintained or poorly built facilities.

Loading Livestock #FarmSafetyWeek

Take care when loading livestock. This short clip runs through best practice when loading livestock #FarmSafetyWeek

Posted by Teagasc on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Often farmers don’t make adjustments or modify equipment to make it safer because they are in a hurry or because they think they can just ‘make do’ for economic reasons.

“But farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan; and ‘because I’m in a hurry’ is not a good enough reason for poor maintenance of equipment and facilities. Safe equipment is more of an investment than an expensive luxury,” she concluded.