UACES Facebook Livestock Handling Safety
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Livestock Handling Safety

Many farmers work around livestock on a daily basis. It should be known that animals sense their surroundings very differently. Due to their sensitive hearing, livestock are able to detect sounds that humans cannot hear. Loud noises easily frighten them. Research shows high frequency sounds actually hurt animals’ ears. This may explain why some animals are nervous in unfamiliar surroundings.

Many animals see in black and white, not color. Some animals’ eyes sense movement better than human eyes. Cattle have almost 360° panoramic vision and can be spooked by quick movements behind them. On the other hand, cows and pigs have poor depth insight and difficulty in judging distances. Accordingly, cows are seemingly unable to differentiate the difference between a real cattle guard and parallel stripes painted on a road. This section emphasizes some tips related to livestock handling safety.

Livestock Safety Tips

Farm workers, ranchers, family members and visitors are injured every year by livestock. Many of these injuries occur when handling livestock.

  • Label livestock handling areas to warn away visitors.
  • Design livestock pens and handling facilities using recommended plans.
  • All facilities should be designed to allow workers easy access to and exit from animals.
  • Make sure to consistently and properly use restraining equipment.
  • Equip pens with emergency exits.
  • Keep children and bystanders out of livestock handling areas.
  • Animals can be unpredictable. Be sure you understand some of the common instincts of animals.
    • A strong territorial instinct is common.
    • Changes in lighting or shadows can excite or spook them.
    • Separation from other animals can cause unpredictable behavior.
    • Sudden or loud noises can frighten animals.
    • Some types of livestock, such as beef cattle, swine and dairy cattle, are colorblind and have poor depth perception. This causes them to be sensitive to contrasts in light, movement, and noises.
    • Cattle and horses can see everything around them except directly behind their hindquarters.


  • Are gates, fences or pens in good repair?
  • Do aisles have any sharp projections?
  • Is restraining equipment usable?
  • Is an escape gate or path available?

Information supplied by the National Safety Council’s Agricultural Division, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) – or 888-844-6322.


Contact you local county Extension office