DairyNZ’s three-year Reducing Sprains and Strains project set out to understand the common causes of injuries and work with farmers to develop practical solutions to reduce them on New Zealand dairy farms.

Dr Callum Eastwood, DairyNZ senior scientist, explains that the overall aim was to reduce lost time and productivity and support farmers' wellbeing, especially during calving.

The physical nature of farming means that even when health and safety is prioritised, preventable sprains and strains can happen. In 2022 and 2023, there were about 1,500 claims, totaling $5-6 million to ACC each year.

Most injuries were to the back, often from calf-related activities, including lifting heavy objects like calves, buckets, or bags of meal. “Research has shown that sprain and strain injuries make up around 40% of dairy farm injuries, with the highest risk period during the spring calving season,” says Callum.

“We were focused on working directly with farmers, every step of the way, to understand the issues, and together innovate, design, test and refine product designs that were easy to use and worked for current farming practices.

“Our workshops involved farm owners, employees, health and safety experts, engineers and other professionals with insights and experiences to help develop solutions that reduce risks around essential tasks.”

A calf going through the Easy-Access Calf Pen Gate.

The Easy-Entry Calf Trailer Gate being towed on farm.

Following the initial designs, DairyNZ has worked with manufacturers to help develop and produce some of the successful solutions. This includes Kea Trailers who are now selling the popular Easy-Entry Calf Trailer Gate, and Gallagher who are taking expressions of interest for the Easy-Access Calf Pen Gate.

“The successful workshop concepts were built into physical prototypes with the manufacturers, and then tested and refined based on farmer feedback. It includes the calf trailer gate, which was intensively tested by farmers last calving season, then refined to ensure it is farm ready,” explains Callum.

“New Zealand has many different farm types and so the solutions aren’t a one-size-fits-all. However, the project’s co-design approach, with farmer testing, feedback and refinement, meant the creation of tangible options for farmers to reduce these injuries on-farm.”

The project was funded by ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention Grants programme, with co-investment from DairyNZ.

Find out more about the project and outcomes at dairynz.co.nz/sprains-strains.


See them at Fieldays

Our DairyNZ stand at Fieldays will be showcasing some of our popular innovations from the Reducing Sprains and Strains project which were co-designed with farmers.

Come along to our site and see the Easy-Entry Calf Trailer Gate and Easy-Access Calf Pen Gate prototypes which are now being produced by Kea Trailers and Gallagher, respectively.

Visit the DairyNZ team and engage with the prototypes in the Pavillion at site PC44 from June 12 – 15, Mystery Creek, Hamilton.

Media contact
Celine Walters-Gray
Media specialist
p: 027 247 9876
e: celine.walters@dairynz.co.nz

Page last updated:

28 May 2024


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