DairyLivestockSafety

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Handling Cattle

There are certain guidelines one must abide by when handling cattle to prevent fatal injury and even death in the most extreme of circumstances.

Following these guidelines by the Health And Safety Authority, you can make your farm a safer place when dealing with cattle:

DO

  • Make sure handlers are competent and agile.
  • Work out an escape route or refuge in advance of working with cattle.
  • Know and understand the basics of cattle behaviour.
  • Maximise the use of Artificial Insemination to minimise the number of bulls required. Use bulls that produce docile offspring.
  • Be careful around cows with new born calves, they are more likely to attack.
  • Remember that cows that are ‘on-heat’ are unpredictable.
  • Try to keep cattle calm when handling them.
  • Use a stick to assist in directing cattle.
  • Disbud calves early to prevent horn growth.
  • Watch for warning signs of animal aggressiveness, especially bulls and newly calved cows.
  • Cull fractious and difficult cattle as soon as possible.
  • Exercise caution administering veterinary treatments.
  • Protect yourself against biohazards with proper personal hygiene.
  • Wear suitable protective clothing and footwear.
  • Use well designed facilities.
  • Regularly check and maintain facilities such as the crush, gate latches and fences.
  • Keep ground surfaces clean, as far as possible.

DON’T

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

The author: Nick Fitzgerald