June is National Safety Month. This is a perfect opportunity to consider ways to avoid agricultural accidents. Many people don’t consider the dangers associated with raising and handling livestock. The National Safety Council has reported that over fifteen percent of all farm accidents involve livestock.
This column will explore ways to improve safety in livestock operations. The sources include the Mississippi State University Extension Service publication “Safety on Beef Cattle Operations” and the MSU Dawg Tracks Safety Newsletter entitled “Safety Around Livestock”.
Common accidents that livestock farmers encounter include being stepped on, being kicked, being knocked down, being bitten, and being pinned between an animal and a fence or gate.
The first step to avoid the hazards listed previously is to recognize animal body language that can communicates danger. Warning signs exhibited by irritated and dangerous animals include the following.
- Erect or pinned ears
- Raised or fast tail movements
- Bristled hair on the backs of animals.
- Animals showing their teeth
- Animals scratching the ground
- Animals that are snorting
It is important to respect the power and size of farm animals. Taking steps to keep livestock calm can prevent accidents. An emphasis on safety can not only prevent farmer injuries but also improve animal quality. Practices that can improve safety on livestock operations are listed below.
- Provide secure livestock handling facilities to increase safety for the farmer and the animals.
- Farmers should avoid startling livestock by making slow and deliberate movements while staying visible to the animals.
- Create a normal routine when working with livestock.
- Identify an escape route if problems arise.
- Practice extreme caution around aggressive male animals.
- Increase awareness around newborns with mothers that exhibit protective behavior.
- Avoid slapping and prodding confined animals. Gently moving animals can be more productive.
During National Safety Month, consider livestock handling practices that improve farmer and animal safety.
For more information, refer to the current “Off Road with Extension” video. MSU Extension Agent Brandon Alberson will provide tips to improve livestock operations. The “Off Road with Extension” video series is available on the Pontotoc County Extension Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PontotocCoExtension.