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Safety with Bulls During Breeding Newsletter - June 2023

09 June 2023
Type Newsletter

Download Publication (PDF)

In this edition:

  • Respect for bulls
    Bulls are dangerous animals. Even when they appear to be well tempered, they need to be handled with care and treated with respect. Health and Safety Authority (HSA) statistics show that from 2012 to 2021 bulls were the cause of 16% of farm workplace deaths.
  • Artificial insemination
    The use of AI on the herd reduces the risk posed by a bull on the farm. The use of AI is not possible in all situations, but it should be an option which the farmer has considered. 
  • Precautions
    When checking livestock in the fields, never allow a dog or pets to accompany you. When bringing cows into the yard for milking or walking through the fields with livestock always carry a stick. It is vital when entering a field with a bull to keep sight of him at all times and never turn your back on him.
  • Legislation for ringing
    Breeding bulls must have a ring fitted before they are 10 months old. This is a legal requirement. Ideally, the owner should not fit the ring.
  • Bull management
    It's crucial that the bull becomes accustomed to people and associates people with positive experiences like meal feeding. It is also crucial to keep a safe distance at all times and to control close contact with the use of pens and appropriate animal handling equipment.
  • Culling
    If a bull shows signs of aggression he should be sent for slaughter straight away. Statistics from the HSA show that the number of farmer fatalities by bulls is proportional to the number of the various breeds.
  • Refuge
    HSA statistics tell us that many accidents with bulls take place in the open field during the main mating season. Bulls are guardians of the herd and can perceive you as a threat. Keep the bull in your line of sight at all times, and prepare an escape route or means of defence.
  • Signs
    When a bull is grazing with the main herd, make the maximum use of fields that the public don’t have access to. At the entrance of fields, there should be a warning sign that says “Beware of bull” or similar.
  • Cows
    Heifers and cows are both capable of becoming aggressive and can attack. They are capable of showing extreme vigilance when it comes to protecting their offspring, and the danger is increased during stressful events like calving, dehorning, and weaning.
  • Plan for emergencies
    When working with a bull, follow these safety tips:
    -  keep a mobile phone in your pocket so you can call for help if needed;
    -  someone should be aware of where you are and when you expect to return; and,
    -  keep your first aid box well stocked.