The HSA’s Dos and Don’ts for safely handling cattle

Cattle are the cause of many accidents on the farm, and as such, must be handled with extreme care and diligence. 

As part of an information initiative on cattle safety on the farm, the HSA has made a list of dos and don’ts when handling cattle on the farm. 

See below, and be careful!


– Work out an escape route or refuge area in advance of working with cattle.

– Know and understand the basics of cattle behaviour.

– Make sure persons handling cattle are competent and agile.

– Use bulls that produce docile offspring.

– Maximise the use of Artificial Insemination.

– Be careful around cows that are calving or with new born calves as 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 or paddle to assist in directing cattle.

– Debud calves early to prevent horn growth.

– Watch for warning signs of animal aggressiveness and cull fractious and difficult cattle.

– Exercise caution when administering veterinary treatments.

– Protect yourself against biohazards with proper personal hygiene.

– Wear suitable protective clothing and footwear.

– Use well designed facilities (an investment in your safety).

– Regularly check and maintain facilities such as the crush, gate latches and fences.

– Keep ground surfaces clean and clear of trip hazards, as far as possible



– Put an inexperienced handler, elderly person 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 /arouse cattle unnecessarily.

-Turn your back on a cow at 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 full report can be seen here: http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Information_Sheets/Safe_Handling_of_Cattle_on_Farms_Information_Sheet.pdf

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