The spring-calving season is underway on farms across the country, bringing an increased risk of injury to farmers.

The calving season is a physically and mentally demanding time of year, which can lead to mistakes around the farm. These mistakes could result in an injury, or worse.


Having standard operation procedures (SOPs) in place can help you work more efficiently and safely.

These SOPs can cover areas like: how to deal with freshly calved cows and calves, how calves are fed, how springing cows are dealt with, and the order in which you complete your daily jobs.

Spring calving

The spring-calving season is possibly the most dangerous time of the year to be working on a farm or with livestock.

After calving, no matter how quiet a cow is, there is no way of knowing how she will behave.

When you are calving cows they should be secured in a calving gate, to protect them and to protect you.

If loose in a pen, a cow can easily turn or move, potentially causing harm. Everyone knows someone who has been injured while calving a cow.

After calving you should avoid entering a pen with a cow and calf. Never feed a calf colostrum with the cow still in the pen and remove the cow from the pen before attempting to feed the calf.

If for some reason you do have to enter a pen with a cow and calf, it is important that you have an escape route planned. Also, always keep the calf between you and the cow.

The calving season is also an exciting time of year on farms, but children should be kept away from cows that are calving or have freshly calved.

Remember, it is important to know your limitations and don’t be afraid to call or ask for help.

Zoonotic disease

A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed from an animal to a human. To protect yourself from these diseases it is important that you wear gloves and other protective clothing.

Farmers could – and often do – calve a cow, tend to a sick calf, milk their cows, and fix a broken pipe/fence all before breakfast.

The transfer of a zoonotic disease from animal to human can easily happen through cuts on your hands.

Wearing gloves will not only protect yourself, but also the cow you calved and/or the sick calf you treated.

Zoonotic diseases can be easily passed from animals to humans, with the main risk factors being:

  • Gut disorders;
  • Leptospirosis;
  • Cryptosporidiosis;
  • Bovine tuberculosis (TB);
  • Brucellosis;
  • Q fever;
  • Ringworm;
  • Tape and gut worms.