If you’re handling or working near animals, you’ll know that animals are often unpredictable, and that just like humans, they are all individual in their reaction, and have different reactions to stress. Understanding animal behaviour and animal handling systems are crucial to avoiding injury on the farm.

Most livestock injuries occur when people fall off horses, or are kicked, and most fatalities occur from being trampled.

Confined Spaces
Working with livestock in confined spaces is also a high-risk task for several reasons:

  • It is difficult to avoid contact with the animals.
  • If vaccinating or giving medication to animals, getting stuck with a syringe is a definite hazard.
  • Getting struck with a gate and/or trampled because the animals push to get out is a dangerous possibility.

When an animal enters a new area, it needs time to get used to its surroundings, so letting it/them settle for a while will decrease the risk of startling behaviour. (Always make sure to inspect pens and gates to make sure they are in good working order before allowing animals to enter.)

Large animals such as cattle, typically do not like changes in flooring, including the texture, or extreme bright spots/shadows, and are easily distracted by moving or flapping objects

Flight Zone
An animal’s flight zone is its personal space. Just like you, they need to be comfortable in their surroundings, and are easier to move or work with, when calm. An animal’s flight zone depends largely on how calm they are, but is also affected by several factors, such as whether the animal is excited, or if they are approached head-on. A bad experience with a handler can also increase the risk, as can yelling or high pitched sound.

Some quick tips to avoid injury by livestock:

  • Educate yourself on how to understand animal behaviour.
  • Do not make any quick movements.
  • Always plan your escape route when working with livestock.
  • Never force or hit an animal to try and make it do what you want/need it to do.
  • Never tie a lead rope to yourself.
  • Don’t work alone.
  • Use caution with veterinary drugs.
  • Properly sanitize yourself and animal areas.
  • Wear proper respiratory equipment if needed.

For more information on proper animal handling, ask about our AGR 3000 course!