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No such thing as a quiet bull

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

People forget that farming is a dangerous profession. I recently read about a symposium in Ireland on the danger of farm animals, in this case bulls. And a study into the situation found that, unlike dogs, no breed of cattle was “safer” than another. Authors of the study reported that when investigating fatal accidents, inspectors often hear that a bull could be considered ‘quiet’ for years and suddenly become ‘angry’ and attack.

Interestingly, according to one study presented at the conference, 46 per cent of all livestock related deaths took place while farmers were herding in fields; 27 per cent in farmyards and buildings; 23 per cent when loading or unloading livestock; and a further four per cent were associated with horses. In addition, according to the study, 65 per cent of all farm injuries were associated with cattle

The results mirror what we find here in Canada. According to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association 2010 symposium, farm animals are the sixth leading cause of farm fatalities (behind equipment and vehicle related accidents). Between 1990 and 2004 100 Canadian farmers were killed by farm animals, 10 of those were children and 42 of those were farmers over the age of 65 (slightly better than the 54 percent in Ireland). That’s in addition to reported injuries caused by farm animals- totalling 163 in 2002-2004 alone. And I know how stoic farmers can be, so I guarantee that there are plenty more livestock related injuries that go unreported. Including some of my own.
The research clearly indicates what most farmers have always known, but don’t always practice. Namely, that how the farmer and animal(s) interact is crucial for the safety of both. Understanding the behaviour of cattle and working with them slowly and calmly is considered to be important to not only reduce injuries by cattle but also to cattle.  The same holds true for other types of livestock too.

Breeding for more docile and safer livestock and poultry is one thing agriculture has been doing since the beginning, just as we have tried to do with our domestic pets. The Farm Safety Association has had an awareness campaign for more than 15 years.  But all these unfortunate deaths and injuries illustrate that there is no such thing as a safe farm animal, whether large or small. They will always need to be handled and housed in ways that respect the risk they can pose to those of us who work around them.

How about you, have you ever had a livestock or poultry injury that you haven’t reported? And if so, how come?

Until the next BLOG.


Posted by OFAC on February 10th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Beef cattle,Canada,Dairy cattle,Farm life,animal handling
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One Response to “No such thing as a quiet bull”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by donita b and Lily Danel, Ontario Farm Animal . Ontario Farm Animal said: New post: No such thing as a quiet bull [...]

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