Livestock Pose Giant Threat to British Vets

Many large animal veterinarians are injured on the job, a BVA survey finds.

The United Kingdom had nearly 10 million head of cattle in 2013, according to government figures.

British Veterinary Association

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Don’t be careless around bulls and other large animals.

That’s the advice of the British Veterinary Association, which found that more than half of veterinarians working with production animals on farms had been injured over the previous 12 months.

Even interacting with smaller livestock can be dangerous. “Kicked in the side of the head while castrating a calf” was among the responses to BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey.

Among wounded practitioners, nearly 1-in-5 classified their injuries as “very” or “quite” severe.

“By far the most common injury was bruising caused by kicks, with almost 85 percent of production animal vets who had been injured reporting this,” BVA stated in July as part of Farm Safety Week. “Other injuries reported included lacerations, crush injuries, head injuries caused by kicks and fractures caused by kicks.”

One large animal veterinarian recalled being targeted by a pair of bulls.

“Bruised and shocked,” the practitioner stated. “Both attacks [while] doing whole herd testing on separate bulls, one stock and one beef bull. Both attacked from behind on a farm with poor facilities.”

Another complained of “cattle crushes and squashed body parts.”

Veterinarians and farm owners must be safety conscious, said BVA President John Blackwell, BVSc, MRCVS.

“These figures show the risk of injury that production animal vets run in the course of their work,” Dr. Blackwell said.

“Farmers and vets up and down the country have seen colleagues injured on farms and consequently unable to work,” he added. “Many injuries are avoidable if veterinary practices, their employees and farmers all take action to minimize the risks.”

BVA publishes advice for both trades. The organization’s Farm Health and Safety guide is written for member veterinarians. The leaflet “Is Your Farm a Safe Place to Work?” is available at http://bit.ly/1U4bptE.

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