Every year over 15,000 people in New Zealand are injured in animal-related incidents. Here are some of the key things for you to remember in order to prevent animal handling injuries from happening to you.
Download Animal hazards (PDF 42K) for a complete list of animal-related hazards and safer work practices.
Remember that incorrectly lifting an animal can injure you. Get another person to help if possible, or for more information see the ‘Basic rules for lifting’ section in ACC’s guide ACC400 Preventing manual handling injuries – for the farmer (PDF 329K).
Humans are one of three things to animals – a predator to run away from, a ‘nobody’ to ignore, or a dominant figure to be respected. Show confidence and authority right from the start, or you’ll have trouble.
This doesn’t mean you should beat or chase animals – this can make them more aggressive or fearful, which either way will make them harder to control.
For more information, see:
- ACC400 Preventing manual handling injuries – for the farmer (PDF 329K)
- ACC517 Cattle handling skills (PDF 1.8M)
- ACC2284 Survival guide for livestock handlers (PDF 2M).
There is no such thing as the ‘ideal’ yard - it depends on your needs, and on the animals you’re handling. But some yards are safer and easier to work than others. Pick up some tips from the following links:
- ACC5291 Handling cattle safely (PDF 1.4M)
- The ‘Suitability of yards’ section of Livestock handling: Dairy and beef cattle and sheep (PDF 96K) (external link).
Get to know the breed you’re dealing with, and the circumstances that could make them flighty or agitated. When fronting up to a difficult animal, still remember to keep looking around you, so you are aware of what the other animals in the group are doing.
- Don't underestimate the speed, reach or accuracy of an animal's kick.
- When working with large, temperamental animals (especially bulls), always know your escape route – eg over or through a gate, or over (or rolling under) a fence.
Many animal handling-related injuries occur when mustering animals using farm vehicles. This is often because the quad bike or motorcycle rider is watching the animal rather than where they are going. Try to avoid doing the ‘dogs’ job’ of rounding-up or chasing animals. If you need to look around you, get into the habit of stopping the vehicle.
Animal diseases you can pick up (called ‘zoonoses’) while working on the farm are:
- Salmonella Brandenburg – a bacterial disease affecting the intestinal tract of animals. Sheep yards are a common source of infection.
- Leptospirosis – also known as ‘red water disease’ in cattle. Risk of transmission in New Zealand is high, and it is usually caught from exposure to infected urine.
- Bovine tuberculosis (Tb) – fortunately, catching this is rare in New Zealand. The most common means of transmission is by inhaling airborne particles.
For more information about these diseases and how to avoid them, see:
- Salmonella Brandenburg (PDF 27K) (external link)
- The control of occupationally acquired leptospirosis (external link)
- The Leptosure programme (external link).
Last updated: 1 May 2013