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Health and Safety Newsletter - December 2023

11 December 2023
Type Newsletter

Calving risk assessment

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In this edition:

  • Planning prevents accidents
    Accidents relating to livestock on farms are not inevitable and can be prevented through careful planning and task organisation during the busy times of the farming year. Livestock-related incidents account for 25% of Irish farm accidents and 15% of farm mortality among older farmers.
  • Risk assessment
    Always carry out a risk assessment before entering a pen with a cow. This is most important when a cow is showing signs of calving, freshly calved or in the first few days after calving. Gauge how safe or dangerous the situation is before you become a casualty.
  • Calving facilities
    Calving can be a very anxious time for both the farmer and the cow. There are a number of options listed below which have the potential to reduce stress and fatigue at calving time.
    • Calving camera
      Calving cameras and other electronic devices are good investments on farms. They allow you to review the status of cows and calves from the comfort, and safety, of your home – or bed. 
    • Calving pen
      The calving area should provide good space, be disinfected and well-bedded with clean dry straw, free of obstructions and have good lighting. The calving pen should be cleaned out after each calving to reduce the risk of disease. Well-designed calving pens and gates minimise the direct physical contact between the cow/heifer and the farmer.
  • Young children
    Young children love going to calving pens and want nothing more than to see the new arrivals. However, they should never be allowed in the calving shed since a cow that has just given birth may see them as a threat.
  • Stay safe during autumn calving period
    Ensure that you have sufficient calving pens available for your herd size and calving pattern. It is recommended that there be one calving box per 10 cows. This is where a cow and calf only remain in the pen for one to two days. If there is a tight calving pattern, you will need extra pen space. A calving pen should be at least 3.6m x 4.0m in area.
  • TAMS 3 grants
    The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) provides grant aid under the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) 3 for investments, including livestock-handling equipment. The rate of grant aid available for farm safety eligible items is 60%.