Cattle top NZ's most dangerous farm animal list

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:33 29/01/2014
Andrew Hoggard
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ
CHANGING TIMES: Andrew Hoggard says in the old days farmers had to suck it up when injured.

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Cattle are New Zealand's most dangerous farm animals according to ACC.

Figures obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act show that in 2013 there were 2262 cattle-related injuries requiring ACC funding.

Sheep were in second, inflicting 1612 injuries, while the horse also had a hoof in the payout of 1285 claims.

Cattle were not, however, the most dangerous farm animal in all areas of the country.

For example, in the Manawatu district, Manawatu District farmers in particular flocked to ACC in 2013, claiming 43 sheep-related injuries in the calendar year, a number that earned the sheep the title of Manawatu's most dangerous farm animal - beating out cattle on 40.

It was also a woolly riot in Tararua, with sheep causing 55 injuries in the region in 2013. Cattle also caused 55 injuries.

In the Palmerston North City Council area, cattle and horses kicked back, causing 29 and 21 injuries respectively and resigning the sheep to third place in the injury-causing stakes on 17.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell said the amount of sheep-related injuries in particular was surprising, but the images of cult-movie Black Sheep were not being played out for real in Manawatu paddocks.

"An attack or a ram from a sheep is so rare because generally they're slow enough that you can just get out of the way.

"I would never have thought the injury rate was that high.

"Cows, I understand, because you're bringing them in for milking every day, so there's a lot more interaction."

The statistics had likely been rammed up by smaller injuries such as heels being trodden on in pens and ankles being twisted while herding on steep and slippery slopes, Ms Maxwell said.

"We would not be farming them if that was the rate they were injuring us deliberately."

But farmers should not take sheep lightly, particularly during lambing, she said.

"Don't ever underestimate the lioness' ability to protect her cub.

"As farmers, it's a good sign when ewes stamp their feet when we come near their lambs because it shows they've got a strong mothering instinct, but you've got to be really careful, you've got to have eyes in the back of your head, when you are working around that."

In May last year a a woman was flown to Palmerston North Hospital with a serious leg injury after being knocked down and trampled by a mob of sheep at a remote Tararua property.

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The new year began with another sheep attack near Hunterville where a 47-year-old man suffered serious chest injuries after being headbutted by a sheep on January 3.

He was flown to Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition but has since been discharged.

Those sort of incidents were few and far between, Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei president Andrew Hoggard said.

"I don't think there's too many at the scary end of the scale," Mr Hoggard said.

"In terms of why there are so many - if you look at the old days, farms were a lot smaller and there were less people working there so when you got injured it was a case of sucking it up and dealing with it.

"With more employees there's more focus on putting the processes in place and reporting when you're injured, and the figures reflect that."

Mr Hoggard said shearing sheep was another factor in ACC claims to be considered, because of how difficult it was.

"When I tried it for the first time I got the blade in my arm and was in A and E for two hours being stitched up.

"And unless you have a perfect technique it just kills your back," he said.

Mr Hoggard said ACC levies were coming down, which reflected the fact the industry was getting safer.

BY THE NUMBERS

❏ Cattle: 2262

❏ Sheep: 1612

❏ Deer: 86

❏ Horses: 1285

❏ Other: 721

❏ Animal Carcasses: 52

Source: ACC

- Manawatu Standard

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