‘Too many chances taken with freshly calved cows’ – HSA

Senior inspector for agriculture safety with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Pat Griffin has warned farmers: “There’s no such thing as a quiet cow.”

The HSA inspector has urged farmers to take “extra precautions” on their farms as they enter the busy farming season.

He said: “Any cow can attack and a cow around calving time is one of the most dangerous animals you could deal with on a farm.”

Griffin was speaking ahead of the HSA’s announcement to carry out 300 on-farm inspections beginning on Monday, January 27.

Continuing, Griffin said: “The mother is extra protective and can launch an attack in a split second if she thinks her calf is threatened or being taken away.”

The senior inspector warned farmers: “Always keep a strong, secure gate or barrier between you and the cow when handling or removing the new-born calf.”

Below are some HSA tips on keeping safe on the farm during calving season:
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a neighbour with a difficult cow at calving time;
  • 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;
  • The calving pen should have appropriate lighting;
  • There is no such thing as a quiet cow, so always have an escape route in mind.

Concluding, Griffin noted: “Fatigue may also be a risk factor which may impair good judgement at calving time.

“Farmers should consider getting help and always carry a charged mobile with the first number being someone who can come to help.”