Charlie Weir is the chairman of Holstein NI. The Waringstown man is currently milking 550 cows and like many farmers he always felt that he was ‘savvy’ enough to avoid an accident on the farm.
All of that changed, however, in August 2015. Charlie takes up the story. “I was feeding 60 replacement heifers in a field, which were running with a bull.
“It was around lunch time on the day in question: thankfully my father was with me at the time.
“While standing at the feed troughs, I felt a bump in the small of my back. At first, I thought it was one of the heifers looking extra meal. When I turned around, I saw it was the bull.
“The next thing I knew, he had me up in the air. I remember vividly looking down on his back.”
Charlie continued: “I must have passed out on hitting the ground. When I came around the bull was staring right at me. I thought it was the end.
“In order to defend myself, I put my fingers into the bull’s nose. That’s how close he was to me. Thankfully, that seemed to distract him. I then called out for my father, who was able to get the bull away from me.”
An ambulance was then called for and Charlie was taken to Craigavon Hospital. He was kept in for a week. But it was a full month before he could make any shape at getting back to work.
“I was laid up with two broken vertebrae and a number of sheared ribs,” Charlie confirmed. The pain was unbearable: I was kept on morphine for two months after the accident.”
Looking back on that fateful August day, Charlie still can’t get over how quickly events unfolded.
“It took no more than 25 seconds,” he said. “I am lucky to be alive today. But the accident has taught me a number of lessons. First off, it brought home to me just how dangerous a bull can be. Had it not been for my father’s intervention, I am sure that the bull would have killed me in the field.
“Bulls have immense strength. They can also move with tremendous speed when they want to. As a result of all this we now use much more AI on the cows and heifers. The accident happened without warning. This is the key point which other farmers must remember.
“They have to be prepared for all eventualities when working with livestock.”