Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher advised farmers not to be complacent before, during or after calving.
“Heifers are definitely the ones to watch with sucklers generally more temperamental,” he said.
“Limousins, Saler and Charolais breeds in particular can take up to 3 to 5 days to calm down following calving.
“A good calving gate is worth its weight in gold for optimum control of the animal. At the very least ensure the head is tied, but a calving gate is essential in my opinion.”
Mr Kelleher said: “Every time you enter a pen with a calving or recently calved cow or heifer be mindful of having a way out. Having a pitch fork within arm’s reach is never a bad idea.
“Never make interventions to a calf with your back turned to the cow. If you’re alone and want to examine the calf of an excitable mother, the only safe way is to catch her head in a gate.
“Be very wary of tagging a calf with the mother close by as the calf will often bawl, and lead the mother to charge at you to protect her young.
“Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that good show heifers who have proven themselves to be very compliant in the show ring can often turn in to the worst offenders at calving time. It’s as if they’re not one bit afraid of you and can attack without warning.”
Concluding, Mr Kelleher said: “Post calving, get them back in with the others as this tends to calm them down quicker. ICSA wants to see farmers staying safe at all times and calving is a time to be particularly on guard.
“Don’t be hoodwinked by a previously docile animal and take the necessary safety precautions at all times.”
TheCattleSite News Desk