Thursday, November 16, 2006

Watch when working with or winching cows

The cow may have jumped easily over the moon in nursery rhymes, but a cow sure comes down hard after it’s been winched up even a few feet from the ground.

A Reuters story yesterday related a valuable lesson learned on an Austrian farm. When dairy producer Leopold Zeilinger had a 1,764 pound sick cow too ill to stand, he used a winch to suspend her so he could milk her, according to Reuters.

The story added that when the mechanism broke and Lulu the cow fell on the farmer, breaking several of his bones, “It took 25 firefighters, his wife and a son” to roll the cow off him.

“There was no word on Lulu’s fate,” the story ominously ended.

It can be surmised the farmer may have been tempted to send her to the Big Dairy Pasture in the Sky at that point.

The story does raise a serious reminder that handling livestock can be dangerous.

Anyone who has worked with dairy cattle will sympathize with the Austrian farmer. Anyone who has been pushed up against a stall, had a sudden cow leg come crashing down into a milking pail, or had to face down the wrath of a defensive cow who has just calved, can tell you that the placid, docile image of cattle is rather deceiving.

Rice University, in Houston, Texas warns of the serious injuries a cow can cause and even suggests people may want to use shin guards because “cattle kick forward and out.”

Kentucky has found animals caused a third of all farm-related injuries in that state, with only machinery and falls being a higher cause of injuries. The majority of the animal injuries was caused by cattle and horses, and “half of the cattle injuries occurred while the animal was confined for medical procedures or for loading and transport,” reported Kentucky researchers at a conference in Ohio in 2002 to do with agricultural health and safety.

In 1997, Oklahoma State University found that half the cattle-related injuries were due to human error.

Dealing with cattle requires caution, especially when since cattle can be easily stressed and can react quickly. Never trust that cow — no matter how ill, docile, passive or tame she may seem. Don’t forget that bulls should be trusted even less: they inflict some of the highest percentages of injury, especially in comparison to their numbers on the farms and ranches.

And now there is the latest lesson: be careful when winching up a cow to milk her, unless you know where you might be able to get 25 firefighters to help save you later.

1 comment:

threecollie said...

The boss is walking around with a set of cracked ribs right now that offer testimony to the truth of this. Good post!

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