They have been grazing 20acre fields, so are not often moved. Each day when checked they are relaxed but as soon as they realised we wanted to round them up, their instinct to flee cut in. So, after four days of feeding barley they did, with some encouragement, exit the field.
We thought that was the dodgy bit over but no, as John attempted to pour the fly treatment on their backs, they became stressed, and the situation tricky. The handling equipment on that farm is inadequate making it hard to keep them and the handlers safe. I was very relieved when the job was done without mishap.
We are constantly reminded that farms are the most dangerous workplaces. During the past 12 months there were 27 on farm fatalities; 21 farm workers and six members of the public.
Livestock and machinery are mostly docile and predictable, but situations can rapidly change. In the case of cattle, when they are stressed or protecting a calf you can have half a ton of bully beef happy to flatten you for being in their way. A tractor with an unprotected spinning PTO or when the brakes fail, can result in life changing injuries if not certain death.
We shall be upgrading our cattle handling equipment at Randolphs to the standard we have at Ote Hall. No one’s life or limbs are worth risking however small one considers that risk to be at the time. We may also consider dividing the large fields into smaller paddocks. Moving and rounding up the other half of the herd at Ote Hall is a doddle as they are regularly moved. They come to my call with immediate effect, they are delightful.
Farmers are being encouraged to break the habits of a lifetime and take their health seriously. We all believe we are invincible and fit as a fiddle. Every day we exercise through lifting stuff which is mostly too heavy, walk the fields checking crops and livestock and are generally on the move from dawn to dusk. Farmers don’t go to the gym, neither do they often attend medical check-ups even if there is a problem. We believe we are indestructible and anyway we are far too busy.
Camilla Baker a farmer’s daughter and qualified doctor has teamed up with the Farmers Weekly to raise awareness and promote good health among the nation’s farmers. Her father Paul had a heart attack in 2021 which had a huge impact on his life and livelihood. He was slim, fit and generally in good health, he had no reason to suspect he was having a heart attack. Let this be a warning to us all.