As part of the seventh annual Farm Safety Week, a dairy farmer from Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, has shared his story of how he lost an eye as a result of a farm accident.

The initiative is led by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and aims to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a change in culture that makes unsafe practices socially unacceptable.

Peter Farrell’s farm accident happened on June 30, 2009. He explained he was a bit late going milking but noted he was “relaxed as anything” at the time of the incident.

“There was no element of rushing or anything like that in the accident.”

Clipping tails

He explained that he had clipped the cows’ tails the previous week and had missed one in the cattle crush.

“She came in in the last row – cow number 441 – she was two from the front and while the cows were milking I decided I would clip her tail.”

Clipping involves trimming some of the excess hair on cows’ tails in order to help keep the cows and their udders clean.

Continuing, Peter explained: “I pulled her tail out over the rump rail; I had the electric clippers in my hand and I plugged them in and started clipping.

“Half-way or three-quarters way through, the cow kicked or something happened and the clippers went into my eye.

All I remember was being in the ambulance with the siren on going to Waterford and asking the lads ‘am I really that bad?’

Peter used his story as an example to show farmers that “all these simple jobs can go wrong”.

The aftermath

He noted that despite the fact that he was out of action for a period of time, the cows had to be milked and “there was a good workload and the neighbours took it on”.

That’s the problem with a farm accident. The farm has to work the day after, whether you’re there or not.

He stressed that some people take safety for granted, saying: “Careful is a very boring kind of word; everybody uses it, but it’s so, so important – you don’t realise.”

“It’s very important for me as a farmer that I can do my days work and come in safe,” he concluded