Safety in Animal Handling

Few farmers consider their cattle to be a threat. But each year, several fatalities and major injuries are caused by animal-related incidents. In terms of injuries per hour of labor, a recent National Safety Council study placed dairy operations first and beef cattle farm second. Animals were implicated in 17% of all farm injuries. This matched the percentage of accidents brought on by farm equipment.

A safe workplace is one step closer when dangers are eliminated. Whether using machinery or working with animals, following a few safety guidelines can help you avoid accidents, save time, and even save your life.

(Opens in new window) Fundamental ideas

Everyone who deals with livestock knows that every animal has a unique personality. Animals perceive their environment differently than people do. Instead of seeing in color, they only see in black and white. They also struggle with distance perception. Additionally, there are distinctions between the vision of horses, swine, and cattle. Cattle, for instance, have nearly 360-degree panoramic images (Figure 1). Cattle could be “spooked” by a sudden movement behind them.

Bovines have a wide field of vision.

Animals can hear sounds that human ears cannot perceive since they have an empathetic hearing. Animals are frightened by loud noises, and studies show that high-frequency sounds damage their ears. These reasons explain why animals are frequently wary and uneasy, especially in strange environments.

You can spot potential risks by keeping an eye out for aggressive or scared behaviors in animals. Raised or pinned ears, a raised tail or fur on the back, bared fangs, pawing the ground, or snorting are all potential warning signs.

There are several universally recognized guidelines for working with any animal, even if handling techniques may range significantly for various types of livestock:

The majority of animals will react calmly and methodically to routine.
Avoid making loud noises or fast movements.
Never poke an animal when it has nowhere to go; instead, be patient.
Respect rather than fear the livestock.
Move carefully and methodically among cattle; pet animals softly rather than ramming or banging them.
Always have a way out when working with an animal at close quarters.
Facilities (opens in new window)
Many injuries caused by handling animals have a direct connection to machinery or a building’s structure. Animal injuries can also result from inadequate facilities and equipment. This may result in a substantial financial loss when the market opens.

High door sills, congested passageways, and uneven walking surfaces can all be potential trip risks that result in significant injuries and lost productivity. According to studies, 18% of all incidents involving animals are caused by falls.

For animals, concrete flooring is excellent. Concrete flooring should have a rough finish to avoid slips while it’s wet. Alleyways and other high-traffic locations should have grooves. Water should be able to drain through floors efficiently. Animals in a confinement system are frequently kept dry by using slatted floors.

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