Youth Livestock Safety - 1 - Dairy Safety: Take Good Care of Yourself

Dairy Safety Lesson 1: Take Good Care of Yourself


4-H Lifeskills: Managing self, solving problems, making decisions


Dairy project members will:

  • Describe how you can be injured while working with dairy show animals
  • Recognize how work habits affect your personal safety and the dairy show animals you work with
  • Describe appropriate personal protection equipment and clothing choices for working with dairy show animals at home and at shows
  • Understand how to keep yourself and others safe at public shows
  • Livestock are involved in many youth injury incidents every year. Because of their size, dairy animals can be particularly dangerous.

Lesson 1

It’s important to protect yourself and learn safe working habits, to work safely around animals. This lesson focuses on best practices for personal safety when working with dairy animals raised or purchased for show.

Let’s start with clothing. Sturdy, closed-toe boots or shoes with non-slip soles are your best choice for footwear when working with dairy show animals.

Leather gloves protect your hands from rope burns while practicing with your dairy show animal at home. Latex or rubber gloves are a good choice to protect your hands while washing or grooming your dairy animal.

To protect your skin from sun damage, dirt, and animal dander, long sleeves and long pants are the best choice. When it’s just too hot to wear long sleeves outdoors be sure to use sunscreen and wash exposed skin with soap.

Another healthy choice is safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from hair clippings, dirt, and grooming products. Choose tinted safety glasses for bright sunlight.

And remember to protect your ears. The safest choice is to wear ear plugs whenever you are close to loud noises such as while operating clippers, blowers, or other motorized equipment.

Wash your hands with soap – often - and use hand sanitizer between washings or when soap is not available. Hand contact with the animal’s hide, dander, manure, or urine creates an opportunity for disease to pass from your animal to you. Bacteria and viruses can be spread to humans or from humans to animals.

Be prepared for cuts, scrapes, and emergencies by learning first aid and keeping a first aid kit in your show box and in the barn or building where you stall your dairy show animal.

You may think that you’re careful, but there are lots of ways to get hurt when working with dairy animals.

For example, you could be kicked, stepped on, or tripped while leading, feeding, or grooming your dairy show animal. It may get frightened and try to run, jump, kick, or butt its head.

You can trip or fall over things left lying around, or when walking on an uneven surface such as the show ring or the wet floor of the wash rack.

Without gloves, your fingers can get pinched in the neck chain on the halter or in a gate latch.

You could be poked by wire, clipper blades, or the teeth on the grooming combs.

And, frequently repeated movements, such as up, down, back and forth while washing, grooming, and clipping can strain your muscles, causing aches and pains. To prevent repetitive strain injuries, take frequent breaks and try not to do the same thing -such as clipping your show animal - for hours at a time. Break up tasks into shorter jobs.

Lifting and carrying heavy show boxes or bags of feed can strain muscles in your arms, legs, and back.

In fact, Ergonomists, scientists who study human body mechanics, say there are 3 main reasons for back injury in agriculture. They are:

  • Picking up an object from bending at the waist, instead of using your legs
  • Lifting more than 15% of your body weight.
  • And carrying a heavy load more than 10-15 yards.

So, how should you pick up a heavy object?

First, stand close to the object to be lifted.
Spread your feet wide enough to straddle the object.
Then, squat, bending your knees and hips.
Keep your head up and your back straight
And hold in those stomach muscles
Now lift using your leg muscles
Remember to keep the load close to your body with a firm grip
And finally, turn your feet, not your back, in the direction you are going.

And just how much is 15% of your body weight? You can use this simple formula.

Take your weight times 0.15.

For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, the most you should lift is 15 pounds.

Do the math for yourself to calculate how many pounds you can safely carry.

Your Weight X 0.15 = maximum load

What should you do if you have a heavy load to carry more than 10 – 15 yards?

Ask someone to help you, get a wheeled dolly, a feed cart, wheel barrow, or a wheeled utility cart, or a show box with wheels.

Remember, to avoid injury, you have to take good care of yourself!

What did you learn?

How did you feel the first time you worked with your dairy show animal?

Based on what you learned in this lesson, what should you wear when working with your dairy show animal and why?

How can you be injured working with your dairy show animal?

How can you determine how many pounds you can safely carry without hurting your back?

What other activities do you participate in that require you to protect yourself and how do you protect yourself?

How can you use what you’ve learned in this lesson to help you in other activities?

Now let’s go to the next lesson about the behavior of dairy heifers and cows.


Youth and trainers for dairy cattle show