We are entering a busy time on most dairy farms, with spring planting being a top priority along with so many other day-to-day responsibilities. Your physical health, including farm safety, can often be an afterthought when you’re consumed with checking off everyday tasks and solving constant challenges that seem to arise. Your mental well-being and ability to manage stress can be even further down the to-do list when there are so many other priorities.

This spring, take a few minutes to prioritize both your physical and mental health with these farm safety and farm stress tips:

Focus on the reality of your situation when dealing with farm or cropping-related stress. “The reality is that when you are using your equipment, your equipment will break down. When you are working from sunup to long past sundown, you are going to be exhausted. You will feel like you are carrying the weight of past, present, and future on your shoulders all at the same time,” recognized Monica McConkey, a rural mental health specialist at Eyes on the Horizon Consulting.

“The key is to know and understand the reality of your situation and work to mitigate the stress and damage that can come from anger and frustration getting out of control,” she continued. “Keep the rational, problem-solving, prioritizing part of your brain engaged. Make a plan. If it’s a breakdown, focus on the repair versus the rain that is on the way. Separate out what you can control versus what you do not have control over,” said McConkey, who writes regular farm stress articles.

Prioritize training and caution when operating equipment to avoid incidents. In a “Seconds for Your Safety” farm safety video, Katie Dotterer explains that, “Tractor and truck rollovers are all too common on the farm. Cutting corners too close, falling into field gutters or ditches, operating on too steep of a hill, or even just having too heavy of a load on the bucket or in the bed can all be causes for rollovers. Having inexperienced drivers operating the equipment can also cause accidents.

“Taking time to make sure the drivers are properly trained and able to maneuver the equipment properly and safely can prevent potential accidents down the road,” she encouraged.

To help you commit to farm safety, the Center for Dairy Excellence has a series of quick “Seconds for Your Safety” farm safety videos, in both English and Spanish, that you can use to share simple safety reminders with your farm employees. There are also sets of farm safety signs available at no cost to display on your farm. Click here to view the resources.

In addition to physical safety and well-being, the Center has farm stress and mental health resources available, including McConkey’s monthly articles. View the farm stress resources and articles here.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
April 11, 2024
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