My Side of the Fence

Surviving a Farm Bull Attack

  • Peter de Jong, Author
  • Dairy Farmer, Southeastern Manitoba

Like many cattle farmers we have a bull on our farm to breed the cows which do not get pregnant from artificial insemination (AI). You may not be familiar with AI – this is a way to get the cow pregnant without the bull, using inserting a small plastic straw of semen inside the uterus of the female cow.

After a hundred days from her last calf, if not pregnant by AI, the bull gets a chance to breed the female cow. Most Holstein bulls possess an attitude, over the age of 28 months, and get very protective of the herd and any other younger bull; it is all a natural process of a bull in the free habitat.

Our farm’s bull got out last Fall with the rest of the herd. Someone forgot to close the gate properly and before we realized we had a circus on the yard. All happy cows on a field trip! Firstly, our sons tried to get them back in the barn but the bull was very protective and they called me to come and help; which was the right thing to do, safety first.

They ensured that the cows were not on the road. I arrived with the Quad and it was a lot easier to get them back into the barn. Some cows had wandered into the field and my son went to get them with the Quad, I stayed behind with my other son to see what the bull was doing, besides loud bawling, by the barn entrance. My son stayed in the truck while I stayed about six feet away with the truck door open. The bull and I are moving around and we started have some issues, I wanted bring the cows in to the milking parlor and the bull needed to stay behind. He did not like it that I was taking his herd away.

Besides bawling he never did anything at first, so I was not afraid of him when he balked and started moving his front hoof back and forth. Soon my other son came back with the Quad with the remaining herd. I lost a little bit of attention on the bull and suddenly he mauled me down to the ground; at the speed of 100 miles per hour. Similarly to a car accident, you do not realize what has happened. Before I could realize the state I was in, I received a second hit and the bull tried to plow me in the ground. Luckily for me, my oldest son was brave enough to chase him away with the Quad, while my other son came out of the truck to pull me in. I had passed out and I only realized what was going on when I was in the truck and the bull by the truck door.

The bull was fired for fighting at the work place, for abusive behavior and found himself in a new role in the fast food sector.

At first, I thought I was okay, after cleaning off the blood on my face and body, some pain killers and some rest. The next few weeks told a different story, I was very sore. But, as stubborn as a farmer, I did not go to the Doctor for a check-up.

The next six weeks were very busy, getting our field work done before the government deadline of manure application. Slowly, I started to develop headaches every day and had trouble speaking. Finally I went for a proper check-up. I was immediately admitted to the Hospital. Five months later, I am still recovering.

My point is don’t mess with the bull; make sure you are always with two or more people when you move a bull. Also, the age of the bull is very important. Our Veterinarian shared that some bulls are already getting an attitude, at the age of twenty months. Be cautious when dealing with bulls; you never know how they will react to a given situation.

I wish everyone a good Spring.