When you think about safety on the farm, there are a lot of bases to cover. Chances are you have sturdy fencing and don’t leave hazardous objects lying around. It is precautions such as this that go a long way towards keeping your farm operating smoothly.
One of the main reasons to stay on top of farm upkeep is to prevent injury to animals. If you’ve ever had a vet bill for injured livestock, chances are you know all too well that vet care can become very pricey very quickly. Even injuries that don’t require vet care take away from your efforts elsewhere on the farm, compromising valuable time and therefore affecting your bottom line.
While we tend to focus most on fencing, it is not just a shabby fence or broken board that can do harm to farm animals. It is easy to overlook the many things on which animals can become injured because the their curiosity can be hard to predict and worst case scenarios tough to imagine. In fact, we have had the death of livestock come as a result of a domino effect of sorts; it took three unrelated things to go wrong in order for the animal to pass away, but sure enough, those three things lined up like dominos which simultaneously fell. Though it is sometimes impossible to predict scenarios such as this, it is important to tend to those you can see, such as injuries to animals from farm equipment and implements.
All too often it is expected that animals have an inherent sense of danger that will keep them away from farm equipment. While this is a nice idea, it simply is not true. In addition to the aforementioned curiosity, the survival of many farm animals depends on being able to flee. Sometimes this fleeing, done out of a heightened sense of fear, can lead animals to bolt without a clearly intended path, possibly running into machinery. Horseplay, be it with actual horses or not, can also result in collisions with equipment, causing death and injury of farm animals. In order to prevent this, it is important to put farm equipment safely away at the end of each day.
Photo: Bilyana Grazing
Farm equipment, such as tractors, balers, and other devices that are used in the harvesting and movement of food items could actually prove appealing to livestock. These machines smell like food, after all, and although the machine itself may seem scary to you, animals acclimate to the things they see regularly, which is often spurred on by their drive for food. Because of this, animals may closely inspect this equipment in search of a snack, possibly climbing on it or nibbling at wires, causing leaks and severing lines while at the same time ingesting hazardous chemicals. Another problem with which you may be faced are fights amongst animals. Assertions of dominance or pecking order being worked out could result in kicks which may make contact with equipment. In addition to injuring themselves, this may cause damage to extremely costly equipment.
When you consider all the things that can go wrong when animals are allowed access to farm equipment, it becomes very clear that you need to take steps to protect both animals and machines. Although these two things coexist on shared property, they need to be separated from one another at all times. Do not operate equipment in the same fields where livestock graze if at all possible. Store equipment in barns or fenced off areas where animals cannot gain access to it. During this process, be sure to give said equipment breathing room; just because there is a fence between an animal and a tractor does not make it safe. Animals can and will stick their heads through fencing, so always give equipment a wide berth, ensuring it is and remains out of reach. Remove hay and food particles from harvesting equipment to remove that form of temptation as well.
Since both animals and farm equipment are part of our livelihoods and how we feed our families, it is imperative that we protect both. By taking steps to keep the two from encountering one another, you will be doing both them and yourself a tremendous favor. Then, instead of paying unnecessary bills, you can get down to the business of farming without the worry and distraction of injured animals or damaged equipment.