Farm safety: May you stay safe this month

The May workload on farms includes a range of areas where farm safety risks can arise — stock going to grass, fertiliser and slurry spreading, silage making, and the breeding season.

Safe start

A safe start will help you survive the day.

On entering your farmyard in the morning, take a look around to see that all is in order, and deal with any safety risks. Have a work plan for the day organised.

Slurry spreaders and spinners

Check all machinery before starting any slurry or fertiliser spreading tasks.

Ensure PTO guards are in place. Avoid wearing loose clothing or jackets with dangling drawstrings or cords.

The braking system of the tractor, including the handbrake, needs to be in full working order.

Clean the windscreen, mirrors, rear window and side windows on the tractor before starting any machinery task.

Plan to carry out all tasks safely. Avoid rushing any job. Drive slowly in farmyards and over rough ground.

When agitating slurry, no children, older farmers or bystanders should be present.

Open all doors and outlets to ensure thorough ventilation. Remove all stock from slatted sheds before agitating.

Never enter a cattle shed when it is being agitated.

As most deaths associated with slurry are due to drowning, caution is urged when working close to open slurry manholes.

Close safety grills and agitation points after each use.

Silage making

Stay clear of tractors and mowers when in motion.

Only approach a mower when the tractor engine is stopped.

Keep children supervised at all times.

Be Safe, Be Seen. Wear a high visibility vest when working near a silage pit.

Stay on the ground when working at a pit or clamp. Let the loader do the work.

Fork silage up from the ground at the sides and end of the pit. Stay clear of reversing tractors and trailers.

Grazing animals

Never try to dose/inject/treat a calf out in the open field. Ensure they are safely penned, away from their dam.


When checking cows and calves, avoid bringing dogs with you. Cows will feel their calf is threatened and may attack both dog and dog handler. Use a vehicle as a mobile sanctuary in case of an attack. Always carry a fully charged mobile phone.

Stock bulls

When bulls are at pasture, a strong chain should be fitted to the nose ring, for safety, and to keep better control of the bull. Never turn your back to a bull. Stock bulls are anxious to protect the breeding herd.

Show zero tolerance towards any bull showing signs of aggression. Cull the bull!

There’s no such thing as a quiet breed of bull.

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