A Banbridge farmer who was almost killed by a bull has added his voice to a campaign to improve farm safety.
Farm Safety Week 2015 is an online campaign to raise awareness of safe techniques.
Alexander Martin from Banbridge had been keeping a bull with cows in a cubicle house on his yard. He noticed that there was a cow in heat and felt that it would be a good time to move the bull and cow into a house of their own. So he entered the shed to get the pair out and gave the cow a tap to get her moving.
“Whenever I did that I saw that the bull was turning around towards me so I looked to see how I might get away if he kept coming.
“I turned round to make my escape and as I did he banged my back and with the one lift had me straight up against the wall,” he said.
The bull continued to screw his head against Alexander’s leg, which ended up badly bruised, with a substantial amount of muscle damage. His collarbone was also broken by the initial impact against the wall.
“Had the bull put the pressure on my upper body that he was putting on my leg I have no doubt that I would have been destroyed,” he said.
The injuries took three to six months to heal and had serious implications for the rest of the family, as he had to hire people to run the farm while he recovered.
As the bull had shown signs of aggression, and because Alexander didn’t have a proper bullpen to house it, he then moved it off the farm for slaughter as soon as possible.
Although he made a good recovery, the accident has made him much more cautious about how he handles bulls, and he is keen to share his experience with other farmers.
“I was caught [while] keeping my eye fixed on the bull and that was the thing that really surprised me – that even when watching him, he got me.”
Roberta Simmons, President of YFCU and Farm Safety Partnership member, added: “In the last 15 years, 25 per cent of all farming fatalities in Northern Ireland are due to livestock-related incidents on farms and on average, one farmer a year is killed by a bull in Northern Ireland.”
The campaign is driven by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority.