Avoid animal-handling injuries

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Geni WrenVeterinarians' own haul-in facilities should be safe for themselves and employees when working cattle. Veterinarians are not always able to be there to train employees on livestock handling for their own safety as well. Angela Daniels, DVM, Circle H Animal Health, Dalhart, Texas, believes training can help, and perhaps video-based training showing common mistakes and pointers in different situations for each management type would be effective.

Dee Griffin, DVM, MS, University of Nebraska, suggests that veterinarians take regularly scheduled time to discuss safety with employees. “This is best done as a round table open discussion with employees,” he says. “Mentoring new employees by assigning them to long-tenured employees is a system that seems to me to be an outstanding safety training and injury prevention system as used at the U.S Meat Animal Research Center.” Griffin notes that this period for most new employees lasts for about six months

Lynn Locatelli, DVM, Cattlexpressions, Watrous, N.M., believes veterinary schools should also incorporate appropriate handling techniques into every procedure veterinary students perform on any animal. “This is an under-emphasized area of veterinary medicine and should be incorporated into all animal contact situations.”

Veterinarians should also keep these suggestions in mind for their own haul-in facilities:

  • Cattle handling facilities should be equipped with properly constructed animal loading structures to minimize hazards associated with animal transport.
  • Workers should avoid positioning themselves in areas of entrapment when working around large animals.
  • Cattle should be monitored for signs of unusual aggression. Dangerous animals should be promptly removed from farms to prevent worker injury.
  • Work areas should be designed or modified to eliminate potentially hazardous protrusions.

Everyone needs to pay attention to the subtleties of bovine body language, but Locatelli says veterinarians especially get in a hurry. “Producers who are calm with their cattle often stay calm and aren’t always impressed with the way a hurried veterinarian handles cattle,” she notes. “Producers who need to work more calmly with their cattle often get into an excited state when a hurried veterinarian works with them.”

 Read the full Bovine Veterinarian article on veterinarian safety here.  



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