Farmers are being challenged by Teagasc and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) to think about improving livestock handling systems to make them safer and more efficient.
Livestock safety is the focus of the fifth and final day of Farm Safety Week, according to the IFA.
To highlight the issue, a Farm Safety Farm Walk was held earlier today at Kildalton College, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny.
At the walk, a description was given of the renowned ‘Temple Grandin’ principles of safe cattle handling, followed by viewing of safety and efficient cattle handling facilities.
Teagasc safety specialist John McNamara said: “Many farmers never stop to consider why animals behave as they do and – more importantly – what this behaviour could mean to their personal safety.
“Working safety with livestock involves much more than being ‘careful’ around recently-calved cows or cantankerous bulls,” he warned.
In fact, many livestock accidents are not directly related to the animals themselves but caused by improper use of equipment of poorly-maintained or poorly-built facilities.
Animal-handling practices are often learned from watching others and from personal experiences growing up on the farm. Too often, this results in unsafe livestock handling and restraint practices.
“Thankfully, most animal incidents are not fatal but too many men, women and children are needlessly injured every year due to a lack of safety awareness.
Broken bones, crushed and mashed limbs, work absences and unnecessary medical expenses are some of the results of livestock-related incidents.
IFA president Joe Healy also spoke, noting: “Handling cattle always involves risks; the risk of being hurt physically by an animal that is frightened or has been startled and the risk of being hurt due to the misuse of equipment or equipment that is poorly maintained.
“Livestock can be unpredictable, something that even the most experienced farmer can’t completely plan for.
“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.
‘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,” Healy stressed.