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‘Always stand outside the danger zone’ – advice on loading and off-loading cattle

Good handling pens are paramount to encourage animals to calmy enter trailers.

That is one of the main messages of a new campaign on preventing livestock-related injuries on your farm from the HSA and the Farm Safety Partnership, Teagasc and FBD.

The bodies have produced a series of short videos containing industry-leading life-saving advice covering livestock handling, farmer’s health, sheep farming, chemicals, children, slurry handling, harvesting and farm machinery.

As part of its livestock handling safety campaign, it provided advice for farmers to adhere to when loading and off-loading cattle.

Firstly, ask:

  • Are all gates in the right place?
  • Is everything secure?
  • Does everybody know what to do?


  • Check all animals are fit to travel;
  • Think about how many animals the trailer would carry safely – note legal requirements and manufacturer’s specs;
  • Ensure you have experienced helpers if required;
  • Arrange and check all facilities thoroughly;
  • Park the vehicle and trailer safely with the brakes applied;
  • Floors should be covered if the surface is slippery;
  • Eliminate anything that will cause animals to baulk or shy;
  • Placing straw on the ramp may be helpful for certain age groups;
  • Light the interior if needed;
  • Close ventilation flaps if sunlight is causing light or dark patches in the trailer, which may make animals baulk or shy;
  • Be alert;
  • Always stand outside the danger zone when opening and closing the trailer gates and loading door;
  • Prepare in advance for unloading;
  • Ensure the area is secure and there is a clear route from the trailer to the receiving pen, yard or field;
  • Keep the slope of the ramp to a minimum;
  • Make use of a natural slope or use an unloading bay where possible;
  • Give animals time to move off the trailer at their own pace.

Other news article on the dos and don’ts of designing livestock handling facilities

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