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COLUMN: Farm safety should be first priority

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By Bryce Roberts

Children can learn many valuable life lessons while working with livestock, and everyone loves to see children and animals working together. However, it’s important to remember livestock can be dangerous. Injuries from livestock-related accidents are a major source of injuries to children in agricultural settings.
According to the National Safety Council, 17 percent of all farm injuries involve animals. It is important to think about how those injuries could be prevented and  to make changes on your farm to prevent additional accidents, particularly if there are children around.
Animals and humans sense their surroundings very differently, so it is important to recognize those differences and use that information to help handle animals with greater safety.  Animals do not see color the way humans do. They also do not have good depth perception. They have a fear of stepping over grid patterns. These are the reasons cattle guards are good ways to keep cattle in and allow vehicles to cross. Livestock have extremely sensitive hearing, which is why loud noises frighten animals and high frequency sounds hurt their ears. Finally, animals are very protective of their young and could become dangerous if they perceive harm to their young. These issues help explain why animals can balk or become skittish in unfamiliar surroundings.
It is important to teach children safety measures for interacting with livestock, whether they will be working with them on a daily basis or visiting for the first time. Here are a few important tips:
• Avoid loud noises and sudden movements
• Wear closed-toe shoes, preferably steel-toed boots
• Stay away from the rear legs
• Approach large animals at the shoulder
• Stay away from animals with newborns
• Stay away from bulls, boars or rams
• Have an escape route when working with animals in close quarters
Following these safety measures can reduce the risk of injury while working with livestock. Remember, be alert and always respect animals. They may look friendly, but they can be dangerous and unpredictable in certain situations.  

District Board Meeting
The Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service District Board will meet Monday, Jan. 23, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Spencer Co. Extension office, located at 66 Spears Drive.  Topics to be discussed include election of officers and update on new facility.
Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu.  You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.