Animal handling can be a dangerous practice. Untrained or inexperienced individuals risk misreading a situation and approaching it incorrectly. Even experienced animal handlers risk becoming too comfortable and letting their guard down.

There are thousands of animal-related injuries each year, some of which result in death. The most common animal handling injuries include bites, being stepped on, knocked down, kicked, thrown while riding or pinned between the animal and a hard surface.

The following tips can help to keep you safe when handling animals:

Animal Handling Tips:

  • Use mechanical lifting aids whenever possible for lifting animals like pigs, calves or sheep.
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, latex gloves, masks, steel-toed footwear, helmets, coveralls and lead aprons whenever necessary and available.
  • Take advantage of equipment designed to assist you whenever possible, even if you feel confident in your skills or the animal’s behaviours.
  • Never go into a situation for the first time alone and uninformed. Seek out someone with experience to help guide you through the process and have them supervise you every step of the way.
  • Approach every animal and situation with caution. Speak to the animal softly as you approach and never make any sudden movements.
  • Avoid approaching any animal from its blind spot.
  • Avoid distractions. Give the animal your complete attention at all times to avoid being caught off-guard.
  • Study the animal’s body language before you approach it, and take note of anything that might help to indicate its mental or physical state.
  • Know how to identify and address animals that are infected with any disease that could be transferred to humans.
  • Keep the work area clean and free of debris, and practise good hygiene by washing your hands immediately after handling animals