Keeping Animals Safe Around Farm Equipment

  1. GPS1504
    Often overlooked is the safety of livestock and other farm animals around tractors and other farm equipment. It is important to take precautions with animals of all shapes, sizes, and intelligence levels to keep them safe from harm. Animals are often given too much credit and expected to know to stay away from farm implements, but the fact is, animals are curious. They like to check things out, especially things that smell like food.

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    Several years ago I bore witness to the aftermath of a horrible accident involving a young horse. She was in a stall and slipped her head between the boards into an area where farm equipment was stored. Her nylon halter caught on a piece of equipment and the result was a tragic end to her young life. This was not an accident directly caused by negligence or carelessness; no one could have dreamed up the awful thing that happened to that horse. It was the perfect storm of worst case scenarios and as terrible as it was, it is something from which we can all learn. You must look for ways in which unlikely things can happen and do your best to prevent them. Expect the unexpected. Something that looks totally harmless and benign might just be a death trap waiting to happen.

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    If you use your tractor to haul animal feed, such as hay, odds are you will have remnants of that hay in and around your tractor. My horses are always looking for food and inspect every possible source of it that they can find and most other livestock animals do the same. To keep your horses, cows, goats, and other animals away from harmful equipment, avoid storing it where they can access it. Never park and leave tractors in a pasture full of livestock. If you keep your tractor in a barn and your animals can wander right up to it, that right there is an open invitation for injury. On the flipside, they can do harm to your equipment. If there is a pecking order fight in the vicinity of your tractor, it can be kicked or crashed into. Curious animals that like to nibble can sample some of your wiring, severing lines and causing leaks. This can also result in the ingestion of rubber or harmful chemicals which can bring on big vet bills for your animals as well as big repair bills for your tractor.

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    The safest way to keep both your animals and equipment safe on a shared piece of property is to separate them and keep them separated at all times. While storing your equipment, make sure no animal can make contact with it, be it by walking up to it or slipping a head through a tight space. When working on your equipment, give animals a wide berth or ideally place them in a different field. If you are transporting a food source such as a round bale, do it while your animals are a safe distance away or housed in another pasture. When you are finished with that hay, remove all remnants from your tractor so temptation to approach it is not there. Your animals as well as your tractor contribute to your livelihood; do all you can to keep both free from harm and in good health, and no matter what they say, do not let them drive.

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