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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘The percentage of cow/heifer incidents causing death has increased dramatically’

Preventing accidents with cattle and sheep was a key area highlighted at Teagasc’s recent sheep open day on Saturday, June 18th, 2022.

Attendees heard that livestock deaths make up 19% of all deaths and 42% of farm accidents on Irish farms.

Figures from the HSA show the following causes of livestock-related deaths:

  • Cow or heifer accidents: 33%;
  • Bulls: 18%;
  • Horses: 8%;
  • Bullocks and other cattle: 41%.

A spokesperson for Teagasc said: “The notable trend is that the percentage of cow/ heifer incidents causing death has increased dramatically in the last decade, so additional precautions with this livestock group are required.”

“Farmers are advised to keep a bull’s temperament under constant review, have a ring and chain fitted, keep a bull in view at all times and always have a means of escape or refuge.”

Preventing accidents

The spokesperson highlighted that preventing accidents with sheep revolves around having safe handling facilities.

When herding sheep in hilly or mountainous areas or when beside rivers/ streams, pay particular attention to managing the safety risks associated with the terrain.

This applies particularly if you are utilising an ATV. The spokesperson noted that “special attention needs to be given to preventing musculoskeletal injuries when handling sheep”.

Attendees heard that farm accidents and ill-health cause tragedy, suffering and long-term disability. The spokesperson noted that “they also have the potential to jeopardise a person’s capacity to farm effectively and hence jeopardise farm income”.

“Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interests to give practical safety and health management adequate attention.”

In 2021, ten fatal accidents occurred associated with farming, one with ‘forestry and logging ‘and one due to farm construction.

Furthermore, an estimated 2,800 serious accidents take place each year.

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