Cow broke my back – but I still de­liv­ered calf

Bangor Mail - - PUZZLES - Wyn Jones is warn­ing farm­ers not to take un­nec­es­sary risks af­ter he broke his back help­ing a spooked in-calf cow

AN An­gle­sey farmer has re­called how he once safely de­liv­ered a new­born calf – de­spite suf­fer­ing from a bro­ken back.

Mo­ments ear­lier Wyn Jones had been knocked over and pinned to the ground by the calf’s pan­ick­ing mother at his farm in Llan­er­chymedd.

Af­ter free­ing him­self and grab­bing a pitch­fork, he re­turned to de­liver the calf de­spite “aching from head to foot”.

Later he was di­ag­nosed with a hair­line frac­ture of the back and an in­jured shoul­der. He was off work for 10 weeks

Mr Jones spoke out about his fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to warn farm­ers about the dan­gers of tak­ing short­cuts when han­dling live­stock.

“I’m ex­pe­ri­enced – and I’d known this cow for seven or eight years – we un­der­stood each other,” he said.

“But I star­tled her. In hind­sight, I should never have gone through the feed bar­rier.

“Usu­ally, I would al­ways go through the steel door, it’s noisy and the an­i­mals can see who’s there.”

When it comes to han­dling cat­tle, the 43-year-old is as ex­pe­ri­enced as they come, hav­ing worked part-time at Gaer­wen live­stock mar­ket for a decade.

Each year he deals with around 12,000 cat­tle at the mar­ket, as well as the beef, sheep and suck­ler cows on his own farm.

He’s never been afraid of cat­tle – he still isn’t – but he re­alises the ac­ci­dent in Jan­uary 2016 could have been much worse.

“It hap­pened at my own farm at 3am,” he said. “A heifer was calv­ing and I went to see to her. It was an aw­ful night, wet and windy.

“I knew this par­tic­u­lar cow could be a bit touchy but we had a mu­tual re­spect and she’d al­ways been OK with me.”

Rather than en­ter via a shed door where he could be clearly seen, Wyn thought it would be eas­ier to cut through the feed bar­rier. Even though there was plenty of light, he spooked the cow and she knocked him to the floor.

Wyn found him­self in a cor­ner with nowhere to go and the an­i­mal’s head press­ing down on his chest.

He tried to fight back be­fore slid­ing un­der a gate into an ad­join­ing pen.

Af­ter stag­ger­ing to his feet, he re­turned to the calv­ing pen de­spite know­ing he’d been badly hurt.

As well as be­ing signed off work at Gaer­wen mar­ket, Wyn also needed the help of fam­ily and friends to main­tain his own farm.

To help him out, the Royal Agri­cul­tural Benev­o­lent In­sti­tu­tion (RABI) stepped in with a £2,000 emer­gency grant.

The RABI is back­ing this year’s Farm Safety Week, which is now un­der­way aim­ing to high­light the in­dus­try’s ap­palling safety record.

Last year 27 farm­ers and farm work­ers were killed on farms, along with three mem­bers of the public.

Wyn’s ad­vice to oth­ers is “know your han­dling place, have an es­cape route – and don’t cut cor­ners”.

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