‘It was like a bus hit me’: Stark safety warning following bull attack

A Cork dairy farmer has urged fellow farmers to learn from his experience by sharing the story of a bull attack which he was lucky to emerge alive from.

In an initiative spearheaded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Liam O’Keeffe from Co. Cork explained on camera how one day, while crossing his farmyard, he noticed his bull was not in his usual place.

“Once I saw the bull I got a dung fork; caught his chain and I was walking him around the yard,” Liam said.

That was when things took a turn for the worse as the bull attacked him.

“It was like a bus hit me. He had me struck five or six times in couple of seconds.

“I fell down on the ground; I caught the chain and started to hit him as hard as I could and I got up and ran. It was such a powerful belt you just couldn’t believe.

He had broke my pelvis in two places; he had broken the end off my back bone. I would definitely have been killed if there wasn’t a ring and a chain on that bull.

According to the HSA, bulls and livestock attacks are one of the major causes of death and serious injury on Irish farms.

“Liam has shared his story in this video to help other farmers think twice about their own safety around bulls,” the HSA added.

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has urged farmers to be particularly aware of the dangers posed by livestock during calving season.


With spring calving now underway on many Irish farms, IFA Health and Safety executive William Shortall has urged farmers to be particularly vigilant to ensure their own safety.

On average, 9% of farm fatalities are caused by cow and heifer attacks each year, with farmers more vulnerable to accidents at this time of year due to tiredness brought on by the heavy workload of spring.

This is compounded by the fact that heifers and cows can be unpredictable at calving time and may hit out without warning.

Commenting on the matter, Shortall said: “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.”

The IFA has developed some useful tips for farmers to help keep them safe.

These include:
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a neighbour with a difficult cow or calving;
  • Know your limitations, you’re not 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;
  • 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;
  • Remember there is no such thing as a quiet cow.