More than time and money: A mixed-methods study of the barriers to safer cattle handling practices

De Ann Scott-Harp, Corinne Peek-Asa, Diane S. Rohlman, Brandi Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Cattle are responsible for more injuries and fatalities than any farm animal, and cattle-related nonfatal injuries are some of the costliest, requiring more time off work than other injuries. Though research has improved our understanding of cattle behavior, developed low-stress handling practices, and determined how facilities can be safer, injury rates remain high. This project identified the types of equipment commonly used on farms and assessed farmer perceptions of safety and barriers to implementing changes. Methods: A mixed-methods design was used for this study. The study was comprised of a survey (N = 66) and four site visits conducted at operations focusing on different types of beef production in Iowa, United States. Information collected included descriptive characteristics of the operator and operation, tasks carried out on the farm, handling facility components and design, and incidents of handling-related injuries. Results: Most farms indicated that they utilized equipment like alleyways, a manual headgate, a sorting/diverter gate, and a manual squeeze chute. Farmers cited the cost of equipment, lack of necessity (their setup worked well already), and lack of time as being the main reasons they have not implemented changes in their operations. However, qualitative responses provided additional details and nuance, illuminating farmers’ anxieties related to farm transitions, knowledge, and trust of equipment sales personnel. Conclusion: This study provides health and safety professionals with additional details about why beef cattle producers may choose not to invest in safer handling equipment, even when they recognize the safety benefits of doing so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)978-985
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • agricultural safety
  • cattle handling
  • mixed methods research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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