With nine farmers killed by cattle last year alone – and 31 dying over the last five years – the NFU in the North East is organising a practical event to demonstrate how even small improvements to cattle handling systems and simple safety precautions when working alone can help improve the sector’s health and safety record.
Due to be held on Wednesday 6 November jointly by the NFU’s livestock and dairy boards in conjunction with AHDB Beef and Lamb, the event will centre on a presentation by well-known independent cattle handling expert, Miriam Parker, who will focus on understanding cattle behavior and how the design of handling systems can affect cattle co-operation and farmer health and safety.
Also attending will the NFU farm safety and transport adviser, Tom Price, who will explore the need to take safety precautions when working alone. Joining him to reflect on the challenges of lone working will be farming charities RABI and FCN plus representatives from location finder specialists What3Words.
The event follows a suggestion by North East Livestock Board member and York farmer, Andrew Sewell, who says he is shocked by the number of people injured and killed by cattle every year.
“We need to do something about this urgently,” he said.
“More of us are working alone and we never think anything will happen to us as we are working with cattle day in and day out. But animals can be unpredictable and when something goes wrong farmers are always going to come off worse.
“We can all take practical steps to reduce the risks we face and I hope this event will tackle what can be a tricky subject in a positive way, encouraging everyone to take action back on their own farms – whether that’s looking afresh at their handling systems or changing the way they work to improve their on-farm safety.
“At the very least I would hope all farmers download the What3Words app to their phone so that if there is an incident they can get help quickly.”
Talking about the difference that effective cattle handling systems can make, Miriam Parker said: “Managing cattle movement is a true skill – getting animals to move calmly from one place to another. But understanding how animals react and what stimulates them can help producers design better handling facilities.
“Managing cattle movement is not just about a quiet life – it is about improving safety for those handling them – and that is increasingly important as labour on-farm reduces. It is also about increased efficiency – requiring fewer hands for any task. Good handling makes routine and important tasks easier, safer and quicker to achieve.”
The event will take place at Greystone Farm near Richmond, starting at 10.30am.
After lunch will be an optional farmer workshop for people wanting advice on how to improve the handling system they have at home.
Participants will be able to develop a design brief for their farm and produce an initial design & sketch to take away.
Anyone wanting to attend should email KE.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 771218.