Livestock safety reminder

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As the winter months approach and evenings draw in the Ulster Farmers’ Union is reminding farmers to take extra caution when handling livestock.

UFU deputy president Barclay Bell said: “Livestock can be unpredictable; even though these animals can often appear docile their temperament can change at any moment. A bull for example stands at over five foot and weighs 900kg on average. An animal of this size only has to ‘play’ with you to cause serious, commonly life threatening injuries.

“As many farmers bring livestock in for the winter and direct contact with animals increases it is vital that safety remains at the forefront of farmers minds. I would encourage farmers to seriously think about the potential dangers involved with their daily activities. When handling or moving livestock I would encourage farmers to ensure that they have an escape route planned, a farmer should never trust any animal.”

Urging farmers to be on their guard when working with livestock, Malcolm Downey who heads up the farm safety team at HSENI said: “Over the past 15 years, around a quarter of all farming deaths in Northern Ireland have been due to livestock-related incidents. Also, on average one farmer a year has been killed by a bull and many others have been injured, some seriously.

“The risks of working with cattle and bulls are well known, from crushing to kicking and butting, however it is clear that some farmers need to urgently change how they do things when working with their livestock. By putting in place sensible safety measures and by using good handling facilities, they can save time, money and, most importantly, lives,” Mr Downey said.

Barclay added: “UFU want safety to be a priority on every farm in Northern Ireland so that the risk of serious accidents can be reduced. There are many hazards on the farm and quite often accidents which occur would have been preventable if practical, steps were taken. We are urging farmers to be very mindful of the dangers they face and take the action necessary to improve farm safety.”