According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one million children live on farms of which, on average, 113 youth less than 20 years of age, die from farm related injuries annually. Over 16,000 children were injured on farms in 2009 alone. It’s natural for kids to want to help their parents or family member do farm tasks, but special precautions need to be taken where minors are concerned as dangers may not be as recognizable to them as to an adult.
• Due to their size alone, livestock pose many threats to children. They are naturally drawn to baby animals; however, they may be seen as a threat to the overprotective mother animals. Keeping children at safe distances and out of pens or stalls is a good first step. Teaching them to observe and not interfere will help keep them safe.
• Educate children that many animals spook easily at loud noises or sudden movements, so remaining calm will increase chances for safe encounters. Knowing where an animal’s blind spot is, and how and where to approach it can reduce the animals tendency to spook. They should also have an escape route planned to be able to get out of a dangerous situation.
• Barbed wire and electric fencing can cause injury to children who may not understand, or be aware of the hazards. Putting flags or fabric strips on wire fencing can make it more visible, reducing the risks of someone colliding with it.
• Animals are particularly one-track minded when food is concerned. No one, especially children, should stand between livestock and their feed.
Working with livestock is a great way to teach kids responsibility on the farm. This responsibility comes with many hidden dangers that may not be recognizable to small children. Teaching them the proper way to work with animals will ensure their safety.