Injury Prevention - Working With Livestock

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Many farmers never stop to think of their personal safety when working with livestock. Farmers may work carefully around livestock most of the time, however because an animal's behavior can be unpredictable at times, individuals can be injured because of preoccupation, haste, impatience, or even anger. Injuries that are common when working with livestock include bites, kicks, being stepped on, pinned against a solid surface, or overcome by a single animal or the whole herd. Some general guidelines when working with livestock include:

- Understand and study the typical behaviors of the livestock you are working with.

- Herd livestock such as cattle or sheep can become agitated or stressed when one animal is isolated from the herd.

- Maternal female livestock can become aggressive in an effort to protect their young.

- Mature male livestock can become aggressive in an attempt to show dominance.

- Understand aggressive warning signs such as showing of teeth, ears laid back, or stomping of feet.

- Avoid startling an animal by making it aware of your approach before getting too close.

- Move calmly, deliberately and patiently around livestock. Avoid quick movements or loud noises that may startle animals.

- Excessively changing the animal's environment or daily routine can take the animal out of their comfort zone.

- Avoid being in travel paths during the feeding of a herd or large group of livestock.

- Be aware of your surroundings and always leave an escape route when working in close quarters with livestock.

- Bottle fed or show livestock can become playful because of constant handling, After being placed back in with the general livestock as an adult, they may still approach you in a playful manner when you are not expecting it.

- Be patient and avoid frustration when working with difficult or stubborn livestock. Back injuries, muscle strains and slip /fall injuries can occur when frustrations lead to over aggressive handling practices.

Source: Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility Program Coordinator

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