Rural Affairs

Farm safety – Plan safe spaces

Top tip: Always plan an escape route and never turn your back on a cow around calving.

Working with livestock can be dangerous and there is always a risk involved. The Ulster Farmers’ Union encourages farmers to stop and think before they carry out any task on the farm, to ensure they are doing it in the safest way possible.

Animals are one of the top four dangers on farms and on average at least one farmer is killed each year by a bull or cow/heifer around calving time while others are injured, often seriously. It only takes a spilt second for a life changing or fatal accident to occur.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland urge farmers to ‘Stop and think SAFE’, and has the following advice this calving season:

  • Watch for warning signs of animal aggression, especially in cows and heifers around calving time
  • Work out an escape route or refuge in advance of handling livestock
  • Be careful around cows and heifers with new-born calves
  • Remember, that cows that are on heat are unpredictable
  • Where possible use a head gate to restrain a cow or heifer when checking the calf
  • Try to have help available when calving a cow or heifer
  • Try to keep cattle calm when working with them
  • Aggressive and difficult cattle should be culled as soon as possible
  • Protect yourself against disease with proper personal hygiene
  • Turn your back on a cow or heifer around calving time
  • Put yourself or a colleague at risk with cattle
  • Stress or arouse cattle unnecessarily
  • Beat or shout at cattle unnecessarily – they remember bad experiences

For further information, visit the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland website: