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Nationwide: Animal Handling and Containment

The following information is provided by Nationwide, the #1 farm and ranch writer in the U.S.*

Nationwide® members file claims for animal “breakouts” on their farms and ranches that total close to $8 million a year. Consider these best practices to help you keep people and animals safe on your farm or ranch.


From broken fences/gates and trampled crops when animals enter someone else’s property, to vehicular accidents from a farm animal on the roadway — damages occur when animals break containment.

To prevent escapes and maintain safe containment, ensure gates, chains, chutes, fences, corrals and headgates are properly secured, maintained and repaired. And when restraining animals, make sure you’re using equipment properly and consistently.

Animal handling

When handling livestock, proper protective clothing such as gloves and steel-toe boots should be worn. Ensure handling areas are clear of children/bystanders, and beware of these unpredictable animal behaviors:

  • Strong territorial instinct
  • Extreme aggressiveness in males (bulls/stallions)
  • Aggressiveness by mothers with young
  • Spooking from changes in lighting and shadows
  • Spooking from sudden/loud noises; avoid yelling
  • Kicking by cattle/horses because they’re unable to see behind their hindquarters

Ensure proper training and understanding of hazards associated with animals being handled.

Animal Aggression

Recognizing aggressive behavior, and knowing proper reaction techniques, is important to safe farm/ranch living. Watch for warning signs:

  • Turning broadside with arched back
  • Head lowering/shaking
  • Neck flexing
  • Eyeballs protruding
  • Back hair standing on end
  • Pawing ground with forefeet
  • Raised tail/flicking tail
  • Snorting

How to protect your farm/ranch

Prevent losses involving your animals with these tips:

  • Practice good livestock containment
  • Understand the hazards/liabilities of poor animal containment
  • Inspect containment hardware on a regular basis and after severe weather; repair damages immediately
  • Train workers to practice safe containment, animal handling, inspection and repairs
  • Educate visitors, contractors, family members and friends about the animal hazards on your property
  • Utilize safe animal handling practices
  • Wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • Know the animal Flight Zone

Dog bites

Livestock is not the only animals to consider. Many claims result from visitors, contractors or workers being bitten by family pets. Properly containing your dog can decrease your chance of a claim. Post signage that you have a dog and make it visible to anyone entering your property.

For more farm safety tips, contact your local Nationwide farm agent or visit

* By direct written premium, AM Best (2018). Based on statutory data.

Nationwide, its affiliates and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any suggestions or information contained herein. The recommendations provided are general in nature, unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the safety suggestions. Nothing contained herein is meant to represent or indicate compliance with applicable standards or requirements mandated by federal, state or local jurisdictions. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2020 Nationwide

Special Member Savings

At Southern States®, we are proud to be a farmer-owned cooperative. Southern States has partnered with Nationwide® to offer Southern States Cooperative member-producers in North Carolina and Virginia special discounts on farm insurance. In addition to giving you exclusive insurance savings, we're also joining forces to support the cooperative that means so much to you.

Nationwide® Agribusiness is the number 1 insurer of farms in the U.S. and a leading insurer of commercial agribusiness. Go to to find a local agent.

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