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Farmers urged to prioritise safety at calving

Farmers urged to prioritise safety at calving

With data from the HSA showing that attacks by a cow with a calf account for a third of all livestock fatalities and cows with calves were involved in more fatal incidents than bulls over the 10-year period of 2014-2023, farmers have been urged to prioritise safety during the busy calving season.

This message came from the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with special responsibility for Farm Safety Martin Heydon T.D., who said: “Calving is underway on many farms and the next few weeks will be a very busy period.

“I urge all farmers to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and everyone working on the farm during the calving season. Farmers must prioritise safety and take time to assess potential hazards and risks around the farmyard and farm. Time spent managing farm safety is time well spent.”

Be conscious of the risks

Reflecting on the HSA data, Minister Heydon said: “Cows will naturally be anxious at calving time and will defend their calves, not just after giving birth, but throughout the grazing season in the case of suckler cows. We must be conscious of the risks when working with cows, even those we consider to be quiet animals. Keeping a barrier such as a gate between yourself and the cow when treating or tagging the calf is an important measure to prevent an attack”.

Older people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to livestock, with livestock accounting for over a quarter of fatalities among farmers over 65 years of age. On this, Minister Heydon said: “As our mobility reduces with age, I would urge older farmers this calving season to avoid situations where they may not be able to react in time to avoid an incident and to reach out for help when the need arises.”

DAFM has also reminded farmers that good planning and preparation in advance of the calving season is key, as it helps to improve the efficiencies and helps reduce the risk of an incident.

Additionally, Minister Heydon reminded farmers of the TAMS 3 Farm Safety Capital Investment Scheme, which has a higher rate of payment of 60% for an expanded range of farm safety related investments including calving gates, livestock monitoring cameras and handling facilities such as cattle crushes.

Also read: Make safety at calving a priority for 2024