Watch Out for the Bull! Farmer Risk Perception and Decision-Making in Livestock Handling Scenarios

Ilinca-Ruxandra Tone*, Amy Irwin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Livestock cause many fatal and non-fatal agricultural accidents. It is crucial to understand how farmers perceive and manage different risks associated with livestock handling to devise better solutions for accident reduction. The current study investigated farmers’ perception and management of four types of livestock handling risks related to self, animal, environment, and equipment. Additionally, farmers’ and agricultural stakeholders’ perspectives were compared. Methods: Two samples comprising 56 farmers and 55 stakeholders from the UK and Ireland completed the online study. Participants were presented with eight short livestock handling vignettes, two per risk type, and were asked to decide whether they would proceed with the task, to report their reasoning, and to detail their risk management strategies. Likert-scale responses across scenarios were compared. Thematic analysis was used to identify qualitative data patterns. Results: Stress and fatigue were perceived as low risk by both samples based on quantitative and qualitative results. The thematic analysis revealed that risk was evaluated in terms of broader aspects, including animal welfare and duty. Participants reported the use of cognitive non-technical skills when mitigating risks associated with handling livestock alone. Conclusion: By changing safety messages to capture farmer priorities, agricultural organisations could encourage risk avoidance, especially in situations involving stress or fatigue. Furthermore, the cognitive non-technical skills identified could be trained within existing courses for farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-271
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number3
Early online date31 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

The authors are grateful to all farmers and stakeholders for giving up their time to take part in this study. We would also like to thank organisational contacts who aided recruitment.

This research project was funded by the School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen.


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