Livestock a Major Factor in Farm Injuries

Farmers and ranchers who work with livestock need to stay vigilant around those animals.

"Most ranchers and farmers who have cattle and horses like working with animals and interacting with them," said North Dakota State University Extension Service veterinarian Charlie Stoltenow, DVM, Dipl. ACVPM. "The more they work with cattle and horses, the more comfortable they become around the animals. And with that comfort, producers sometimes take their animals for granted. This is a serious and dangerous mistake. Worker safety around cattle and horses requires respect for the animals and concentrating on the task at hand."

Data collected in Colorado from 1997 to 2006 indicated that riding horses, sorting/penning cattle, and using livestock-handling equipment resulted in the highest rates of injury among cattle/livestock producers and cattle dealers. Livestock was responsible for the highest percentage of nonfatal agricultural injury claims, the study found. Livestock were responsible for 27% of cattle dealers' injury claims and 22% of claims from cattle/livestock producers.

Livestock injuries represented the highest proportion of high-cost injuries ($5,000 or more) and the highest proportion of high-severity claims (28 or more days of paid disability). Of those, horses were involved in 38% of injuries for cattle/livestock producers and 27% of injuries for cattle dealers.

A 2002 Kentucky Department of Health Services study indicated that 50% of cattle-related injuries involved cattle confined for medical procedures or for loading and transport.

Livestock-related injuries do not happen only to adults, Stoltenow noted. A study published in 2003 from the University of Kentucky indicated that the injury rate for farm children age 18 or older was 2.8 per 100 children. Boys ages 16 to 18 had an injury rate of 9.2 per 100 children. Cattle and horses were one of the primary external causes of nonfatal farm work injuries in children, the study shows.

The most common types of livestock-related injuries involve animals:

  • Stepping on the handler
  • Slipping and falling on the handler
  • Pinning or squeezing the handler against a barrier
  • Kicking the handler

"Working with livestock should be an enjoyable experience," Stoltenow said. "Think ahead and be prepared. Invest a little money in quality livestock handling equipment. Safety is not an area where a person should try to cut corners. It is too late after a livestock-related injury or death to start thinking about safety."

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