According to the HSA, livestock-related injuries and deaths are among the most frequent in the agricultural sector in Ireland.

Though pedigree stock appear as though they are exceptionally docile, you should never make assumptions about livestock. It is important to remember they are unpredictable animals and it is impossible control every factor in their handling.

From the beginning of the show to the end, it is important for exhibitors and visitors to be mindful of the nature and strength of these incredible animals.

Transporting animals

The transportation of pedigree stock goes hand in hand with any show routine. A key factor to a successful show is to avoid rushing and allow enough time for the safe transit of animals. However, before ever leaving the yard with your show stock, running a safety check on your trailer and towing vehicle should be a top priority. Remember what you are carrying in the trailer are some of your best and most expensive animals.

The trailer’s weight limit should be considered when transporting animals on public roads. Since 2013 you need a BE licence to pull a regular horsebox or trailer with a combined weight over 3,500kg

Ensure every animal has enough space in the trailer which will safeguard the animals’ comfort levels and prevent overheating.

All chains, hooks and latches should be inspected to establish that they are all intact and functional. If the trailer has wood floorboards, these should also be examined to ensure none are rotting and there are no holes in the floor.

Oversee that the trailer hitch is attached to the vehicle properly and that the trailer jack is raised off the ground. This will prevent equipment damage or accidents while in transit.

Once the trailer is attached to the vehicle, one final inspection of lights should be undertaken. These must work correctly and connect to the vehicle in the proper manner to ensure the safety of the driver, animals and other road users.

The maximum speed limit for towing a trailer is 80km/h. This applies on roads where the posted road sign speed limit is higher. As always, drivers are subject to the lowest posted speed sign so it will not always be possible to travel at 80km/h.

Loading and unloading

A considerable number of injuries are sustained when loading and unloading cattle.

A suitable loading ramp with gates is essential for safe handling of animals. These gates must be strong, durable and secure and must operate freely and have the ability to be immobilised once the trailer is closed.

Cattle can have a level of apprehension upon loading with the possibility of resistance. The stockman should allow enough time, remain calm and patient in the event that this does occur.

When possible, exhibitors should unload stock close to the stalls – this will aid in settling the animal as more stock will be around in the unfamiliar site.

A lead rope on a bull’s ring or a snaffle for females should always be applied before loading and unloading stock.

Completing the loading process, it is important to take care when closing the ramp gate. A number of accidents have occurred with cattle kicking and pushing back on the handler when closing the gates.

When lifting the ramp it is advised to stand to the side and seek assistance where possible, so as to avoid unnecessary back strain.

When unloading animals, non-slip surfaces are important and in some instances straw or hay should be spread on the loading ramp. The handler should not rush animals, remain calm and let the animals come out in their own time with some light encouragement.

Persons handling cattle must be competent, fit and agile. From the beginning of the show to the end, it is important for exhibitors and visitors to be mindful of the nature and strength of these incredible animals.

Exhibitors should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (eg steel toecap boots). Always carry some sort of stick while handling the animal to control it.

Halters should be fitted correctly and with bulls a separate handling rope should be clipped to the ring on their nose for extra control. Neck collars should also be tied to senior animals and tied to the stall in case the halter comes loose or is untied from the stalls.

It is important to remember loose animals can be dangerous to people. Wild and excitable animals at home should never be brought to shows.

Another point to remember is all exhibitors should have their animals insured if going to shows. No matter how quiet and well-trained you think your animalis , something unexpected happening could spook it, causing you to lose control