As this year’s Farm Safety Week gets underway from Monday, July 16 until Friday, July 20, farmers from across Scotland tell their stories about accidents they have been involved in.

Working with livestock can be a dangerous and volatile occupation no matter how many years you have been doing it. Ian Pirie, a cattle and sheep farmer from Maud, Aberdeenshire, knows this all too well.

Ian, his wife and eldest son, farm near Peterhead where he finishes around 1,000 head of cattle and have 200 breeding ewes.

Although many know the dangers of working with cattle, and farmers and crofters know their herds better than anyone, animals can be unpredictable.

‘It happened so quickly’

Ian explained that earlier this year he was sorting through a pen of cattle, and one came from the behind him, kicking him with its hind legs.

Ian explained: “It happened so quickly. I’ve had plenty of kicks by cattle over the last 50 years, so I didn’t think much of it.”

Unfortunately, this kick was not the same as any other. Ian was left with little to no power and control going through his leg after the accident.

After leaving it for the night to see if it would improve, he phoned the doctor the next morning.

“I went to A&E at Peterhead and had it x-rayed,” he said. “It showed that there was a slight chip to my knee, but thankfully it wasn’t broken.

I was referred to a consultant and surgeon in Aberdeen who after further investigation realised the tendons were all severed above my knee. They operated the next day.

“If the surgery hadn’t been carried out at that stage, my knee wouldn’t have worked properly again. It’s just like broken cables – it’s not something that reconnects over time.”

The injury caused Ian to be housebound during one of the busiest times of the year for the farm with lambing, calving and spring work underway – but thankfully his family was there to help out.

Minimising the risk

Looking back on the accident, Ian doesn’t believe there is anything he could have done differently. Working with livestock always has its dangers.

However, he is now reviewing and updating the cattle handling systems on the farm – some of which have not changed for many years.

When working on livestock it is important to use necessary safety equipment, take your time and ensure your safety, and that of those around you, is a priority.