Injuries to Scottish farmers while tagging and clipping cattle: a cross-sectional survey

Sandra Lindsay, Sivasubramaniam Selvaraj, David John Godden, J. W. Macdonald

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background Anecdotal reports suggested that farmers were sustaining significant injuries while ear tagging newborn calves or clipping cattle prior to slaughter.

Aims This national survey was designed for determining the incidence and nature of self-reported injuries to farmers that were sustained while tagging calves and clipping cattle.

Methods A cross-sectional, anonymous, postal questionnaire survey was sent to all members of the National Farmers Union of Scotland with beef or dairy cattle (n = 4495).

Results In total, 2439 (54%) usable questionnaires were received and 1341 injuries were reported by 591 (24%) respondents. Tagging-related injuries were reported by 297 (12%) respondents. The most commonly described injury was bruising, but lacerations (3%) and fractures (3%) also occurred. Fifty-eight (20%) individuals lost time from work, with a median of 3 days [interquartile range (IQR) = 2-7 days]. Four hundred and eighteen (17%) respondents reported clipping-related injuries. The most common injury was bruising, but lacerations (6%) and fractures (7%) also occurred. Ninety-five (23%) individuals lost time from work, with a median of 4 days (IQR = 2-14 days). Tagging injuries more commonly affected lower limbs and the trunk, while clipping injuries affected the upper limbs. Tagging injuries were associated with working alone, in an open field and with a vehicle nearby, while clipping injuries were associated with working alone, with beef cattle and with younger age. Both types of injury were associated with injuries from livestock in other circumstances.

Conclusions Tagging calves and clipping cattle prior to slaughter are associated with a significant risk of injury, which may be severe, necessitating treatment and time lost from work. Policy makers, safety advisers and the farming community should reconsider whether these procedures are necessary and whether current guidelines should be modified in order to improve safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages5
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • agricultural injuries
  • farm safety
  • farmers
  • injury risk

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