Corroded cattle processing facilities are a serious threat to farmer safety


Farmers have been warned to check their livestock facilities for signs of wear and update them if necessary.

The warning comes after a recent inquest into a farm death in which a farmer was crushed when his cow breached a holding pen.

Upon investigation, a Health and Safety Agency inspector stressed that there were no apparent visual defects on the crush gate, as corrosion in its mountings only became apparent “after the fact”.

The jury recommended setting up an audit and inspection system for the use of agricultural equipment for health and safety reasons. dr John McNamara, health and safety specialist at Teagasc, said it was “vital” that farmers inspect their handling equipment for signs of wear and replace it where necessary.

“Many on-farm facilities are now quite outdated,” he said. “I see it regularly on farms – the equipment and facilities have been there for a long time and it can be dangerous.

“Upgrading farm facilities is so important. Corrosion can be especially prevalent where piers and steel come in.”

Farmers sometimes tend to “overlook” the handling facilities on outdoor farms, according to McNamara, who cautioned against using “makeshift” materials.

“Gates should be hung correctly and everything should be fitted and secured correctly and constructed correctly. Regular inspection of your systems can save lives.”

Facilities on outdoor farms can often cause problems, according to Tadhg Gavin, Veterinary Ireland Food Animal Chair.

“We often see problems, especially in ancillary operations. Things like crushes are often not cared for properly and things will come loose and wear out. They need to be reviewed and kept up to date.

“Some crushes make it difficult to properly examine an animal or give it the treatment it needs, and this impacts a veterinarian’s job and creates a safety issue.”

He says some new crushes have “a design flaw” and don’t account for the “flow” of animals.

“Some of the newer swarms require the farmer or vet to board next to the animal, which is not safe.

“Farmers setting up new handling facilities should ensure that it is easy to exit and get away from the animal if necessary.” Corroded cattle processing facilities are a serious threat to farmer safety

Fry Electronics Team

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