Keeping yourself and your show sheep safe includes making sure buildings, pens/lots, and equipment are well maintained and in proper working order. The facilities you use to house and work your sheep should be well designed and ventilated, sturdy, and safe for you and your animals.
Keep buildings, alleys, and lots neat and tidy. Remember: Slips, trips, and falls cause many injuries when working with livestock. Make sure you have a place to put all your supplies, equipment, and feed and keep all of those items in their proper place. Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Don’t allow manure or feed to accumulate in alleyways or chutes.
Keep mechanical equipment clean and well maintained. Clean and sanitize grooming tools regularly, not only to keep them operating properly, but also to remove any organisms that can spread disease (such as ring worm). Be extra careful cleaning clipper blades because they are sharp.
Inspect electrical cords on clippers and blowers often. Replace cords that have exposed wires.
Make sure the clipper blades are sharp. Shearing with dull blades presents a safety hazard to you and your sheep.
Use only electrical outlets have three-pronged receptacles; if outlets are located outdoors, make sure they are waterproof and have ground fault circuit interrupters to keep you and your show sheep from getting an electric shock.
Maintain good lighting for indoor and outdoor areas where you will be working with your show sheep. Lighting should be bright and not create shadowy areas. Sheep can get scared going from a brightly lit area to a dark shadowy area.
Buildings used for housing sheep should be well ventilated to help keep your sheep cool in the summer and to also minimize your exposure to dust when you enter the building.
Keep fences, gates, doors, etc. repaired. Replace or repair equipment that doesn’t work. Gates that are hard to open can cause muscle strains or can pinch you if you have to push hard and they open or close unexpectedly. Wire ties or nails poking out of fence boards can cause scrapes or puncture wounds – to you and your sheep.
Choose equipment that will help make working with your show sheep easier. A blocking stand with head restraint helps hold your sheep still while you groom and allows you easy access by elevating the sheep to a better working height. Some blocking stands allow for variable table heights making it even easier to groom the sheep at a height that is optimum for the person grooming.
What do you do with your buildings and pens to help you stay safe when working with your show sheep? How do you care for your equipment to help you stay safe when using it to work with your show sheep?
How can facilities contribute to a safer environment for you? For your show sheep? How does proper maintenance of equipment contribute to keeping you safe?
List some of the safety practices you do each day – in your home, at work or school?
Set up a practice show at a project meeting to practice show ring safety. Take the Sheep Safety Assessment Quiz at www.bae.ksu.edu/youthlivestocksafety/(link is external) Evaluate the safety of your livestock facilities using the Safety Audit Checklist. Make note of potential dangers and work with your parents to correct the dangers. Visit and evaluate project members’ facilities with an eye on safety preparedness.