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Study confirms that fatal incidents involving livestock are on the increase

The recent news report of the farmer who shared her story of being injured by cows whilst trying to save her dog is a stark reminder of the potential dangers’ livestock pose. Even to those who are familiar with cattle, horses, sheep and other livestock, the behaviours of these usually docile animals can be unpredictable.

For example, cows are known to display aggressive tendencies to protect their calves, and this can lead to serious injury to those around them. The news report confirms that a study by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) shows that fatal incidents involving animals are on the increase and unfortunately this has been more so in recent years.

In an HSE report detailing fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain between April 2022 and March 2023 it is recorded that those injured by an animal was the most common cause of death for reportable deaths in the agricultural industry. Injury caused by livestock is also a common cause of injury.

Even when large livestock such as cows are not showing aggressive tendencies to protect the herd or young, they can be startled or cause injury by sudden movements or behaving in a playful manner. Due to their size and weight injuries sustained can be life changing or in some instances cause a fatality. 

There has also been an increase in injuries to members of the public from cattle. The common cause is attacks or trampling whilst using a public right of way which crosses across a field which contains cattle. These risks increase when the cows have calves at foot, or the walker has a dog with them.

I have assisted clients who have sustained injury from cows and other livestock and have seen first-hand how serious the injuries can be. It is important that when individuals are around livestock or in the vicinity of them to be aware of the surroundings and the potential for injury to occur.  

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people following serious injury at our dedicated serious injury section.

Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) are highlighting research showing that fatal incidents involving animals are on the increase.”