Sudden attack by cow almost costs farmer his life

Brendan McLaughlin.

THE Vice Chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association in Donegal has told of how a freak farm accident at his home last week almost cost him his life.
Mr Brendan McLaughlin, who farms 86 acres at Balleighan, outside Manorcunningham, had been treating a sick calf last Sunday afternoon when its mother suddenly ran towards him.
The 66-year-old sustained serious leg injuries as he instinctively tried to jump out of the heifer’s path at the last minute.
The Donegal IFA vice chairman was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital where he underwent surgery. He’s back in hospital on Monday next for more surgery.
Speaking from his home yesterday (Thursday) Mr McLaughlin said that he was lucky to be alive.
“I’ve been farming for fifty years and I’ve never broke a limb. I’m always very conscious of farm safety but it’s unbelievable what happened to me last Sunday. I calved the heifer myself and thought she was a quiet, yet powerful animal,” he said.
Cow attacks have increased significantly in the last decade, with the time around calving proving to be most dangerous.
“I bred the heifer myself. She’s thirty months of age and I trusted her. I’m very aware of safety and have proper escape gates and pens throughout the farm. Thankfully I was able to dive through the feeding gate.
Foot got caught
“I had just dosed the calf. I didn’t go near the cow and kept the gate open. I then went into the pen behind her but instead of going in she just stood and looked at me. I instinctively knew what was coming and just made a dive for the feeding byre but my foot got caught.
“I fell onto my back and was trying to pull my foot back. I roared at her and had to kick out at her with my other foot before freeing myself. I just sat there doing breathing exercises before phoning my wife Bried. My mobile phone was my saviour. My brother also came down to help and I was taken to Letterkenny hospital where Mr Peter O’Rourke and the staff were all top class,” he said.
Mr McLaughlin’s leg is broken in three places and he has had a plate inserted.
“I’m always preaching about farm safety but this incident just goes to show you that you can never trust an animal. If my story helps to save one life on another farm then my current pain and injuries will have been worth it. You can never, ever be too safe,” Mr McLaughlin said.

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