Sheep do most harm to farmers

23:08, Mar 09 2014

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district's sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC.

Farmers in Gore, Central Otago, Clutha, Dunedin and Waitaki were also all given grief by sheep and cattle.


Horse lovers also suffered at the hooves of their mounts with 131 horse-related injury claims.

It appears hobby farmers and lifestyle block owners also locked horns and hooves with cows, sheep and horses.

In Invercargill, there were 26 sheep, 27 cattle and six horse related injuries in 2013.

The figures obtained by The Southland Times under the Official Information Act show that throughout New Zealand cows left the most farmers bruises and battered last year, with 2262 cattle- related injuries requiring ACC funding in 2013.

Sheep were in second, inflicting 1612 injuries, while horses also bucked in with 1285 claims.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said cattle, sheep and horses were not on a rampage against farmers.

"But their sheer weight of numbers made them the top threat to farmers.

"The number of cattle, sheep and horses, compared to other live animals is significantly higher," she said. "Therefore the number of cattle, sheep and horse related injuries is proportional, and not because these animals present a greater danger."

The top injury causes involved being struck by an animal, strains from lifting and carrying and being pushed or pulled.

A run-in with a farm animal resulted in contusions, strains, sprains, cuts, puncture wounds, fractures or dislocations.

Teeth were also knocked out and concussion suffered.

Southland Federated Farmers president Russell MacPherson said livestock were not turning on their masters. But farming with animals did present a danger.

Cattle and sheep were heavy beasts and when farmers worked in close contact with them and there was always a chance of injury, he said.

Sheep posed a risk when they were being drenched or vaccinated.

"Once you let a sheep go, it can come back at you from behind and give a whack to the back of the legs or back," Mr MacPherson said.

Dairy farmers were often in close contact with cows and they could get a kick or a knock.

Farmers were also getting older.

Like a rugby player in the twilight of their career, the knocks were harder to shake off, he said.

However, for the total amount of man hours New Zealand farmers work with livestock, he did not believe the ACC figures were alarming. One injury was one too many and risks around farm animals had to be eliminated and isolated and animals had to be respected, he said. 



Gore District

Cattle 37

Sheep 75

Horses 9

Other animals 6

Southland District

Cattle 123

Sheep 116

Horses 21

Live Sheep


Animal carcass 3

Deer 11

Other animals 17

Invercargill City

Cattle 27

Sheep 26

Horse 6

Other animals 9

Queenstown-Lakes District

Cattle 5

Sheep 11

Horses 12

Deer 3

Other animals 6

Clutha District

Cattle 73

Sheep 81

Horses 16

Deer 6

Other animals 10

Live Cattle


Dunedin City

Cattle 20

Sheep 49

Horses 37

Other animals 11

Central Otago District

Cattle 24

Sheep 76

Horse 24

Deer 4

Other animals 12

Waitaki District

Cattle 58

Sheep 39

Horses 6

Other animals 7


Cattle: 2262

Sheep: 1612

Deer: 86

Horses: 1285

Other: 721

Animal carcasses: 52



The Southland Times