Handling livestock can be dangerous, especially if you are not used to doing it.

Every year there is the grim statistic of farm fatalities involving livestock.

But there is also the occurrence of a large number of injuries such as broken limbs, crushings etc on farms when handling or moving livestock.

With this in mind, the following advice is from an information sheet from the Health and Safety Authority(HSA). A DVD related to the safety aspects of cattle handling is also available at Teagasc youtube.

Dangerous situations involving cattle are almost entirely avoidable – you or a family member needn’t become a ”statistic”.

Golden Rules for Handling Cattle:

  1. Work out an escape route or refuge area in advance of working with cattle
  2. Know and understand the basics of cattle behaviour
  3. Make sure persons handling cattle are competent and agile
  4. Use bulls that produce docile offspring
  5. Maximise the use of Artificial Insemination
  6. Be careful around cows that are calving or with new born calves as they are
    more likely to attack
  7. Remember that cows that are ‘on-heat’ are unpredictable
  8. Try to keep cattle calm when handling them
  9. Use a stick or paddle to assist in directing cattle
  10. Debud calves early to prevent horn growth
  11. Watch for warning signs of animal aggressiveness and cull fractious and
    difficult cattle
  12. Exercise caution when administering veterinary treatments
  13. Protect yourself against biohazards with proper personal hygiene
  14. Wear suitable protective clothing and footwear
  15. Use well designed facilities (an investment in your safety)
  16. Regularly check and maintain facilities such as the crush, gate latches and
  17. Keep ground surfaces clean and clear of trip hazards, as far as possible

  1. Put an inexperienced handler, elderly person or a child at risk with cattle
  2. Handle cattle or get others to handle them if there is a lack of competence
    and confidence to do the work safely
  3. Turn your back on a bull or trust a bull, no matter how docile he may appear
  4. Stress/arouse cattle unnecessarily
  5. Turn your back on a cow at calving
  6. Keep dangerous cattle
  7. Suddenly enter the animal’s ‘Blind Spot’
  8. Rush into the animal’s ‘Flight Zone’
  9. Beat or shout at cattle unnecessarily – they remember bad experiences.
  10. Move cattle on a public road at night

 By Anthony O’ Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway / Clare RegionalUnit