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Cows: The deadliest animal in Ireland

The initial idea of this article was to approach the theme of the deadliest animals in Ireland, but my research led to an unexpected find, one theme stood out so much that I had to write an article specifically about the subject of accidents involving farm animals in Ireland.

While mosquitos are on top of many lists of the deadliest animals, with Latin America currently struggling with a vast number of cases, over 3.5 million in the first 3 months of 2024, leading countries to formulate new vaccines to address the issue, Ireland, on the other hand, appears in many articles and blog posts in with a different result: Cows.

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Data compiled by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) demonstrates that 2014-2023 attacks from cows account for a third of all fatalities involving livestock in the country, surpassing strangely the number of bull attacks.

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Getting charged by the animal can lead to similar damages such as high-speed incidents, and while dealing with an animal that has a proportion of size and weight way higher than one of a human, one must be very careful.

The Health and Safety Authority demonstrates that older farmers are far more vulnerable and account for major parts of the incidents. One unfortunate event happened recently in Mayo when 77 old farmers got attacked by a newly-calved cow.

The HSA study also demonstrated that 13 victims in 2019 were over 60 years of age, and from those 10 were over 70, and at least two were over 80. As mentioned by Teagasc health and safety specialist Dr John McNamara, in an Irish Times article, half of the farmer’s population is above 58 years old.


A vast number of articles with headlines such as “Cows are by far the most dangerous animal in Ireland”, when researching the theme, most articles lead to both cows being the most dangerous animal in the country but also make farms the numbers of incidents leads the farm itself to be the most dangerous place to work. A study made between 2009 and 2015 study demonstrated that farms accounted for 50% of the fatal incidents in Ireland. While only accounting for 5% of Ireland’s workplaces!

While farms account for the most dangerous workplace in Ireland, inside the farms, incidents with livestock outnumber the other forms of tragedies. as per the study by Cork University Hospital:

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Be mindful of the presence of a large animal

What measures can be taken to decrease the number of incidents and make farms a safer, environment? Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Martin Heydon mentioned the most important measure when working with the animal, and that is: Keeping a barrier, when possible, between the animal and yourself when dealing with the cow or a bull, having obstacles will prevent being charged which is how the majority of the accidents happen.

The minister also reinforced being conscious when around such animals and also reinforced the risks when working with cows, even those considered by the farmers to have a quieter “personality”.

Most of this article was written based on the Data from the study led by the Cork University Hospital that took over five years, and also data collected by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for the period from 2014 to 2023. Secondary research was also undertaken, through the readings of newspapers.

Cows are peaceful animals.

Although measures should be taken, it is important to reaffirm that a country that has a small size and a considerable farming production. Ireland is known for being a safe country, but even in this case abuse and violence from humans towards itself outnumber the peaceful cows. Ireland also doesn’t have mosquitos, both for its climate and sanitary conditions, also as it is widely known, has no snakes. Which also accounts for several incidents across the globe.

Do you find this article interesting? What animal is the most dangerous in your country? Am I undertaking any species in the Emerald Isle? let me know in the commentaries.

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