It is the duty of every farmer to ensure the health and safety of both their livestock and all those working on or visiting the premises. Considering the valuable role that vets play in ensuring healthy animals, it stands to reason that providing them with a safe work environment is of the utmost importance. Of all the equipment and processes employed during a vet visit, the cattle crush and race are items to which farmers should pay particularly close attention.
This is because most livestock don’t generally like entering confined spaces, and the process of moving and then restricting them in a cattle crush can be a stressful experience. When cattle are stressed, they become less predictable, and can make sudden movements that may lead to their own and/or their hander’s injury. While most handlers are generally able to keep a safe distance for much of the process, safety must be particularly upheld for those ‘locking’ the crush, and for the vets who have extended direct contact with the animals.
As such, farmers operating in NZ should ensure that their equipment meets stipulated standards, like crushes not being so broad as to allow for excess movement of an animal when inside. Things like location and placement, clear sightlines for cattle to properly enter and exit the crush and navigate the race, and correct breadth and height should also all be assured. Farmers should further check that purchased cattle crushes in NZ have specific access points for vets to easily conduct their business without being placed in unnecessary danger. Crushes with sound-reduction mechanisms and/or rubber flooring can also help to keep cattle calm and, thereby, reduce risk of injury to vets and other handlers.
The more safely vet inspections and other processes can be conducted, the better it is for farmers, handers, and livestock alike.