Farm Safety Tips from Hazell

The Vet Space Journal

Farm Safety

Hazell Mullins | August 24th, 2020

Crush safety 101


I know I have slightly missed the boat with farm safety week just gone by but I feel safety on farm is never confined to just one week in the year. It is a wonderful incentive every year to highlight the importance of been vigilant on farm but I think all farmers and vets alike know accidents can happen in a blink of an eye, and we need to always have safety in the forefront of our minds.


As a large animal vet I personally have had my fair share of injuries mostly all resulting from silly mistakes and carelessness. As a new grad you have so much running through your mind that’s it’s impossible to think of everything all the time. Most of my injuries were in my first two years as a vet and looking back on it they were completely avoidable but hay ho. 


Burst lip:

 My first nasty injury was a burst lip from a kick whilst castrating a “ young” weanling, I had someone on the tail but this was a 300kg plus limousine weanling that was not a fan of me and my burdizzo.

Bad idea –  I was facing him face on and he left out a donkey kick which catapulted the burdizzo straight into the my face ( I thought I had lost all my teeth). I could hear my orthodontists disappointing tone in my ear but I was lucky not to do any permanent damage.


Good Idea– Face away from the back legs and stand to the side of the animal, also due to size and temperament, sedation would have been more appropriate. Farmer education too is important to castrate younger for the sake of the animal and vet.

Six stitches in the back of my head-

 My next injury was a lot more serious, I was injecting a suckler calf with pneumonia during a tb test.

Bad idea–  Instead of putting the calf in a crush we decided that putting him behind a gate tied with baler twine was a good idea. I had my hands full with bottles and syringes that when he broke thought the gate it swung and I fell helplessly onto a concrete slap. It really wasn’t my brightest moment but I thought “ we would get away with it”, a phrase I used to use a lot as a new grad. I didn’t lose consciousness but I was concussed for a few days and got 6 stitches in my head. The farmers were so kind and brought me to the Doctors, brought me back to their house for tea and cake after to make sure I wasn’t on my own.


Good Idea– Get the calf in a crush maybe with its mother to keep him calm and don’t ever trust a gate not to swing and hit you. Always stand away when cows are pushing up against a gate just in case the handle breaks.


Broken Finger:

This was my first ever broken bone and boy did it hurt. I was reading a “ mad heifer” that escaped from the test the week previously and needed to be done. I was late arriving to the farm due to it been the 6th of Feb and the calvings were flying in so the heifer was a little stressed to start with.

Bad Idea– she was not in crush but was held in a triangle made up of an L shaped feed barrier and a gate. I went to read her neck and she had an avian tb top lump which I proceeded to try and measure . Her head was in front of the feed barrier and I put my hand into to touch her neck, next thing BANG, she crushed my finger against the top of her head and the top feed barrier. OUCH!!

Good Idea: Put her in the crush and headlock her head. She was certainly one for the cull list as she was very difficult to handle. Always have 7up on head to avoid fainting and get good health insurance – VHI shift care and I are well acquainted.


Infected thumb joint-

 My latest addition to my injury list was a run in with a vaccine gun and my thumb joint. Not a match made in heaven by any means and involved a lovely yet embarrassing visit to VHI swift care during “Farm safety week” last year.

Bad idea– Grabbing the skin fold on a cows shoulder for a under the skin injection and the cow bolts forward hitting my injecting right arm and forcing the needle into my left thumb. It was far from my brightest moment.


Good idea– Keep your non injecting hand away from the injecting site and inject at an acute angle to the skin with a short needle. Avoids joints coming near not so clean needles all round. Some things are worse than others to inject into yourself one been any of the scour vaccines, drop everything and get to A and E. 


So as you can see I used to be very accident prone but I have learned from my mistakes and adapted how I work on farm. I know there will be probably more injuries, bruises ( I bruise like a peach its very unfortunate) in the future for me but if any of these tips can prevent an injury for even one of you guys reading, my mission is complete.


Bye for now,


Hazell xx 


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