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The time of year has come when many cattle will be worked with this spring and summer. Unfortunately every year we have producers who will become injured during this process. Some causes of these injuries lead back to being careless, working the cattle too rapidly, and having their mind “somewhere else.” Most injuries to producers that occur when working cattle include: being kicked, run over, stepped on, pinned against the fence, wall or being attacked by overly protective mothers with calves. Following are some suggestions from the Ohio State University Beef Specialists that should aid in reducing injury to the producer.
1. Know the animal’s behavior under stress conditions. This comes by observing the cattle several times.
2. Do not remove or pen one animal from the remaining herd. They will become agitated and stressed when left or penned alone.
3. Brood cows that have recently calved can very quickly become aggressive in protecting their young.
4. Bulls can become protective and aggressive during the breeding season in protecting their females from strange beings in their area.
5. Know aggressive warning signs such as “bowing up.” Bellowing and pawing the ground and also signs of impending danger.
6. Before approaching an animal make it aware of your presence.
7. When working cattle, be calm and deliberate and do it with patience.
8. Be aware that when an animal’s environment or daily routine is changed that can change its entire comfort zone.
9. Be careful and do not place yourself in the animal’s escape route, and especially between mothers and young calves.
10. Be aware of your surroundings and decide on an escape route for yourself in case it is needed.
11. Cattle that were former show cattle or pets may want to play and may approach you in a playful manner, but they do not realize their size and strength could cause injury to you.
12. Be patient and avoid frustration when working cattle. Injuries are more apt to occur under these conditions. The saying “Slow is fast, and fast is slow” applies well to working with cattle.
Perhaps the best advice that can be followed is know your animals and spend time noting how they react under stressful conditions and handling. Finally, no matter how tough you think you are, remember cattle are stronger and quicker to react than you’ll ever be.