Working with Animals

Working with Animals

Safe Handling of Livestock on Farms

Working with livestock, particularly cattle, will always involve risk. Sensible health and safety is about managing that risk.

Every year incidents involving livestock account for a large proportion of the injuries sustained by people working on farms. The effects can be severe. Many injuries caused by cattle result in the farmer being unable to work for months. Livestock incidents have also claimed the lives of 18 farmers in Northern Ireland in the last 10 years.

Before working with Livestock take a moment to Stop and Think!

Think about what you can do if there is a problem.  Where animals are not restrained, always check that there is somewhere safe you can get to easily if an animal becomes aggressive. Work out an escape route or refuge before working with cattle.

Think about the animals you are working with. The risk is increased if the animals have not been handled frequently. Bulls and recently calved cows also need particular care.

Think about what you are going to do. Agitated or stressed animals are more likely to be dangerous. Certain tasks, such as veterinary work, may also increase the risk.

Think about how you will do the work safely. Attempting to carry out stock tasks on unrestrained cattle or with makeshift equipment is particularly hazardous. It increases your risk of injury but also causes distress to the animals and wastes valuable time.  Be safe.  Make sure you have the right equipment.

Remember to think about others who may be hurt: family, employees, visitors such as vets, when handling your cattle. Make sure workers are trained and competent. Never put an inexperienced handler or a child at risk with cattle.  


Many of the steps to stay safe only require a few moments’ thought. Other safety measures, such as a well-designed and built handling system, may seem expensive, but will last many years. Handling livestock safely with good facilities will also save a lot of time, and if you consider the business consequences of an injury, costs less than an accident. Never underestimate the risk from cattle, even with good precautions in place. It could save your life.

Farming Safety App by Ulster Farmers