Safety and animal handling practices among women dairy operators

M. K. Kallioniemi, S. M. Raussi, R. H. Rautiainen, H. R. Kymäläinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This article presents suggestions toward safer animal handling utilizing the results of a qualitative study of women dairy farmers in Finland. A major proportion of injuries (43%) occur in livestock-related work in Finnish agriculture. An even greater proportion of women's farm injuries (77%) is related to animals. We investigated the working conditions of ten women dairy farmers. Data were collected by observing farm work and performing semi-structured interviews. The study farms represented different milk production technologies with an average farm size of 106 ha (262 acres) of cultivated land, 51 ha (126 acres) of forest, and 45 dairy cows. Farmrelated injuries were frequent; eight respondents out of ten had suffered one or several injuries during the previous two years. The women considered farm animals as the greatest hazard, and unexpected animal behavior was viewed as the most significant work-related injury risk. Dangerous situations often resulted from stress in cows caused by unpleasant circumstances or making animals fearful of people. Experiences from some farms suggested that dairy farm work can be relatively safe and that improving the trust between the cows and their handlers plays a key role in safety. We synthesized our findings into four animal handling strategies that can potentially reduce the risk of injury among stockpersons. We developed practical guidelines on how to gradually build a good cow-handler relationship based on our findings and the literature on cattle handling strategies and animal welfare science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Agricultural Safety and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • Agriculture
  • Dairy farms
  • Human-cattle interaction
  • Injury
  • Safety
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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