The 2 important risk areas are –
- Getting cows and then cows and their calf in and out of the pen.
- Looking after the cow and her calf while they are in the pen.
Most new calving pens are designed so that the front gate is hinged onto the feeding space so that it can be safely swung around to trap the cow in a “stall”. However the back bar/chain holding the gate in position does need to be firmly attached to avoid being opened accidentally with an agitated cow jumping around etc.
This still leaves the problem of moving animals in and out of the pen. The main risk comes with taking out a fit cow and her calf which normally entails pushing the calf along narrow passageways etc. One way of possibly minimising this would be to restrain the cow in her temporary “stall” while the calf is being taken out to a larger, safer area and then the cow released with staff always remaining safely behind the front gate which is then hinged into the passageway?
Fortunately leaving cows to calve amongst their herd mates in the pen they have been housed for most of the winter minimises these risks.
Basil Lowman, Basil.Lowman@sac.co.uk
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