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

Sheep Safety

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


Sheep project members will:
  • Describe how you can be hurt while working with show sheep.
  • Recognize how work habits affect personal safety and the animals you work with.
  • Demonstrate use of appropriate personal protection equipment and clothing choices for working with show sheep at home and at shows.
  • Understand how to keep yourself and others safe at public shows.
  • Be familiar with how to include members with disabilities in sheep project activities.

Lesson 1: Take Good Care of Yourself

Livestock are involved in many youth injury incidents every year. Because sheep are small animals and tend to tame down easily their potential to cause injury may be deceptive. Young people who show must keep in mind that regardless of size all livestock are capable of causing injury. This lesson is designed to teach best practices for personal safety when working with sheep raised or purchased for show. It should be used with other Sheep Project materials.Safe working habits include protecting yourself, your animals, and others. The most common injuries from working with and/or showing sheep are: Slips / Falls Muscle and/or back strain Bruises, cuts, and scrapes from being hit by a jumping sheep, kicked, or stepped on Blisters and burns from lead ropes or electrical appliances such as clippers Less common injuries from working with and/or showing sheep: Breathing problems from inhaling dust, animal dander, or chemicals Serious injury – such as broken bones or puncture wounds Practice personal safety by using personal protection equipment and developing safe working habits when working with show sheep, including: Closed-toe shoes or boots – sturdy, preferably leather with non-slip soles Gloves – Different jobs require different gloves Leather gloves protect hands from rope burns while leading your show sheep at home. They also protect your hands while shearing. Latex or rubber gloves protect your hands and forearms while washing, grooming, or doctoring. Long sleeves and long pants protect your skin from being exposed: To too much sunlight To dirt and dander from your show sheep Safety glasses protect your eyes from wool clippings, dirt, and grooming products. When working in bright sunlight, try tinted safety glasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays. Ear plugs protect your ears when using motorized equipment, such as the clippers or blower and when working in an enclosed area where noises are loud. Sunscreen will protect exposed skin from sun damage. Frequent hand washing with soap protects your skin whenever you work with livestock. Animals can easily and unknowingly spread disease to humans. Frequent contact with the animal’s hide, dander, and feces – especially from feeding, washing, and grooming tasks – creates an opportunity for disease to pass from your show sheep to you. An example is sore mouth. Learn first aid and keep a first aid kit in your show box and in the barn or building where you house your show sheep. Do I Really Need Protection? – How You Can Be Hurt Working with Show Sheep The sheep can be frightened and run, jump, or kick. You slip, trip, or fall over things left laying around, on a slick walkway, in a pen, or on an uneven surface (such as in sand in the show ring or uneven surfaces in the lot). You get kicked, stepped on, or tripped while leading, moving, feeding, or grooming your animal. You get a rope burn from the lead rope. You can get burned by the hot motor on clippers or blowers. Your fingers get pinched in a gate latch; you get poked by a wire, the blades on the clippers, or the teeth on the wool card or curry comb. You can strain muscles in your arms, legs, or back by carrying heavy show boxes or buckets of feed. Frequent washing and grooming can cause muscle strains from frequently repeated movements, as in the up and down, back and forth of clipping and combing. Try This! Practice safe lifting and carrying to protect your back. Here’s how: Stand close to object to be lifted; Spread your feet wide enough to straddle the object; Squat, bending your knees and hips; Keep your head up and your back straight; Hold in your stomach muscles; Lift using your leg muscles; Keep the load close to your body with a firm grip; Turn your feet, not your back, in the direction you are going Did You Know? Ergonomists (scientists who study work and the human body) say the three worst problems for agriculture are: full body stoop (bending forward and down from the waist, as when picking up feed bags, buckets, or show boxes); lifting/moving heavy objects (greater than 15% of body weight, i.e. feed bags, show boxes, pulling on a show animal’s lead rope); and repetitive handwork (as when you are washing and grooming). You are more likely to hurt your back when: Lifting more than 15% of your body weight Carrying a load more than 10-15 yards And how much is 15% of your body weight? You can use this simple formula. Take your weight times 0.15. Your Weight X 0.15 = Maximum Load What should you do if you have a heavy load to carry more than 10 or 15 yards? Ask someone to help you, get a wheeled dolly, a feed cart, wheel barrow, a wheeled utility cart, or a show box with wheels. Remember, to avoid injury, you have to take good care of yourself! Discussion Questions With your project group members, discuss how you stay safe working with your show sheep. Share How did you feel the very first time you worked with your show sheep? What do you wear when feeding your show sheep and why? What do you wear when showing your sheep and why? Process How can you be injured when working with your show sheep? How do you keep yourself and people helping you safe while working with your show sheep? How can you determine how much you can safely carry without hurting your back. Hint: 15 % of your body weight is the most you should lift. ________ X 0.15 = ______________ Example: 100 lbs. X 0.15 = 15 pounds Generalize Why is protecting yourself important? What other activities do you participate in that require you to protect yourself and how do you protect yourself? Apply

How can you use what you’ve learned about personal protection to help you in other activities?

GO ON TO SHEEP SAFETY LESSON 2: Behavior Basics: Getting to Know Your Show Sheep

sheep handlers