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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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‘There is no such thing as a quiet stock bull’

Bull Safety Advice 

According to the HSA, bull attacks accounted for 16% of work-related fatalities involving cattle in Ireland between 2011-2020.

The safety watchdog advises farmers to always treat bulls with caution. It says that many farmers have been attacked by bulls in fields and states that usually, these attacks are fatal due to the animal’s size and strength.

It has provided the following guidance to farmers.

  • You should ring all bulls when they are 10-months-old. Also, examine the ring regularly;
  • From an early age, the bull should learn to associate the presence of people with feeding, grooming and exercise;
  • Slaughter aggressive bulls;
  • When grazing a bull with the herd, make maximum use of fields where the public does not have access;
  • Any field in which you keep a bull should be securely fenced and gates safely secured and maintained;
  • Fit a strong chain which touches the ground to a bull;
  • A tractor or suitable farm vehicle should always be provided as a mobile sanctuary
  • Young children should not be allowed into a field where a bull is running;
  • Display a safety sign warning of a bull’s presence adjacent to public places, particularly at access points;
  • A well-designed bullpen is essential for managing a bull when it is away from the herd. The design should allow the stockperson to feed and bed the bull without entering the pen;
  • A bull pen should be where the bull can see other animals. On dairy farms, the HSA says, the pen should be located where the bull can see cows going to and from the parlour or paddocks.

Bull safety 

Teagasc has released a video on safety around stock bulls. In it, Aidan Murray, Teagasc beef specialist, urges farmers to avoid being complacent around stock bulls.

He says that “you must remember there is no such thing as a quiet stock bull because they can turn at any time or any day”.

“If you are going out to herd stock alone, ensure you tell someone where you are going or at least carry your mobile phone, so you can make contact if you need help.”

“Older farmers, in particular, need to be careful. If you have stock bulls grazing in fields, ideally, there should be signs up warning people that there is a stockbull and there is a danger there.”

Murray urges farmers to always have an escape plan when herding stock bulls. He advises that you should ask yourself: Can you stay close to the fence or beside a tractor, jeep, or quad if you need to take refuge?

He says that farmers should ensure that stock bulls are fitted with nose rings.

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