Care required when working with cattle

by Anonymous Author

The death of a North Canterbury farmer last week after he was attacked by a bull is a tragic reminder to farmers to take care around stock.

The farmer is understood to have been working with Scottish Highland cattle in a pen when he was attacked by one of the bulls. The man died at the scene.

A spokesperson for WorkSafe New Zealand, which is investigating the incident, says special care is needed when working around cattle.

“While incidents such as this are fortunately very rare, each year many people are injured by cattle.

Most injuries are when cattle kick or crush them. Many of the injuries, such as broken bones, can be quite serious.”

The frequency and seriousness of such injuries have prompted WorkSafe to issue a guide to the safe handling of cattle.  

The guide says that farmers are most likely to be injured when:

  • They don’t have the experience to assess the risks.
  • They don’t have the agility or ability to get out of the way.
  • With bulls.
  • With recently calved cows.
  • With bad-tempered or irritable cattle.
  • With cattle that are not handled by humans very often, eg run cattle.
  • In a new environment for cattle, e.g. entering the milking shed for the first time.
  • Handling cattle at close quarters, like in a race or a crush loading and unloading cattle for transport.
  • Tired, like during calving season when farmers work long hours with broken sleep.
  • WorkSafe’s guide recommends:
  • Anyone working with cattle is appropriately trained and experienced for the task.
  • Keeping yards tidy and well maintained.
  • Planning an escape route in advance when working with cattle in the yards.
  • Never getting in the race with large cattle. Don’t put your arms or legs through the race walls.
  • Not trying to move a dangerous bull on foot or alone.
  • Always washing and drying hands after working with cattle.

A full copy of the guide is on WorkSafe’s website worksafe.govt.nz.