Dairy cowLibrary picture © Cultura/REX/Shutterstock

A sheriff has issued a safety warning to farmers after a woman was crushed to death by a cow.

Patricia Wishart, 62, was “pinned down and struck several times” after she entered a pen to check on the welfare of a heavily pregnant cow.

The cow became startled and lost its footing, pinning Mrs Wishart to a scaffolding pole that made up part of the pen.

See also: Safe cattle handling plea issued during Farm Safety Week

Her husband Robert Wishart beat the cow away and pulled his wife out of the pen and tried to resuscitate her.

But she died at the scene from chest and abdominal injuries on 6 March last year at the farm in East Houlland, Bixter, Shetland.

In his written judgement after a fatal accident inquiry, Sheriff Philip Mann said Mrs Wishart’s death could have been avoided if she had entered the doorway from the side of the pen.

The tethering arrangement allowed the cow too much forward and sideways movement.

He said farmers should employ a rake and crush arrangement, recommended by the Health and Safety Executive. 

Farming ‘inherently dangerous’

But Sheriff Mann said “farming is an inherently dangerous industry” and stressed “it is very easy to counsel perfection after the event”.

He added: “It is testament to the care taken by Mrs Wishart and her husband in the running of their crofting business that they were engaged in it together for many years without major accident.

“It is tragic that their long and harmonious personal and working life together has been brought to an end in such a sudden and unforeseen way by an accident, the likes of which could but for the grace of god, strike anyone at any time in this particular industry.”