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Farmers urged to reduce risks from ‘unpredictable’ livestock

8:00 AM May 29, 2022

Farmers were shown how to reduce the toll of deaths and injuries caused by livestock during a safety workshop at a Breckland farm.

More than 30 farmers discussed livestock handling, managing public safety on rights of way, and transport regulations at the event at Stonehouse Farm in West Harling.

It was organised by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as part of a health and safety drive which will also include six pre-harvest briefings in the next few weeks.

NFU Essex county adviser Adam Scott, who leads on livestock issues for the East Anglia region, said there had been 100 deaths caused by livestock across the country in the past 20 years, and a fifth of those were members of the public, with many more injured.

He discussed ways of safeguarding people visiting livestock farms, and the growing number of ramblers and dog walkers using countryside footpaths following the pandemic.

He said it is vital for farmers to carry out a risk assessment and find ways to minimise risk, by keeping people and livestock apart where feasible and using information signs so that walkers were aware when entering a field with cows and calves.

NFU farm safety adviser Tom Price highlighted agriculture’s high fatality rate of 11.6 per 100,000 people employed, compared to an all-industry average of 0.44.

“There is nothing inevitable about an accident,” he said. “Most accidents can be managed away.

“It’s a case of looking at the business, looking at what you’re doing, looking at what can go wrong and then doing something about it.”

Host farmer Richard Evans discussed his cattle and sheep handling techniques and demonstrated the facilities he has developed on the family farm.

But he said all animals are unpredictable, no matter how good a farm’s handling facilities are.

He said animal temperament is his number one priority, which means constant monitoring and managing unsuitable animals out of the herd, but “in a responsible way”.

“I was pleased to host this event,” he added. “You can always learn from other people and it’s important to never stop listening and thinking about farm safety.”

Read More: Farmers urged to reduce risks from ‘unpredictable’ livestock

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