Cow broke my back – but I still delivered calf
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”.