Food Freedom

Dairy Danger and Other Unlikely Deaths


I am newly enamored of a publication called Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It's published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and it is just what it sounds like: A bunch of articles about the popularity of various ways to die, or get sick.

I first encountered this publication while digging for more info on the "George Bush gave your daughters syphilis" meme. And now, over at John Tierney's New York Times science blog, a guest post covers yet another Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report gem: Cow-induced fatalities

don't be afraid. come on over here…

The article examines 21 cow-caused deaths (2003-2007) in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

In 16 cases, "the animal was deemed to have purposefully struck the victim," the report states. In 5 other cases, people were crushed against walls or by gates shoved by the cattle. Ten of the attacks were by bulls, 6 by cows and 5 by "multiple cattle." A third of the deaths were caused by animals that had been aggressive in the past.

All but one of the victims died from head or chest injuries; the last died after a cow knocked him down and a syringe in his pocket injected him with an antibiotic meant for the cow. In at least one case the animal attacked from behind, when the person wasn't looking. Older men with arthritis and hearing aids have the highest risk of being injured by livestock, the report says, probably because they don't hear the animals charging and can't move fast enough to get out of the way.

A modest proposal: Cow deaths should become the touchstone to signify real but over-hyped potential causes of death. As in: "Sure, cable news producers are freaking out about the latest trace-amounts-of-rat-poison-found-in-kiwi-fur health scare. But you're more likely to be killed by a cow than die from this one."

No word on the numbers of deaths caused by cows with guns (skip to 2:05 for the stirring chorus):


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  1. You wanna know what kills people. Work!

    I actually had to do my job yesterday and today in order to complete a project, when all I really wanted to do was surf the web and read/post on H&R.

    That is so f’ed up!

  2. I wonder when they say “cow” they mean both cows and bulls. Bulls can be extremly dangerous, depending on the bull. Ultimately, a cow is a large animal. Like any other large animal, without some kind of tool or weapon, a human is pretty much defensless against it. If the cow wants to stomp you, there is not a lot you can do about besides run and hope you can get over a nearby fence before she gets a hold of you.

  3. I suspect that more folks are killed by angry drunken fat broads than by them other cows.

  4. My pediatrician usually had a copy lying around the exam room when I was growing up, so I’d read it while waiting. I didn’t understand all of it, but what I did made me the man I am today.

  5. Eet more chikken, les likelie to squosh you.

  6. Having worked on a dairy farm as a teenager, I can state that a full-grown sow pig can be just as dangerous as a bull cow, and just as ornery.

    I had a cow step on my foot once, while standing on the concrete floor of the milking barn and dayam that hurt. Didn’t have good work boots at the time, but got them shortly thereafter. If they wanted to mess about with you, or just didn’t feel like letting you do your job, they would just lean against you, pushing you up against the stanchion or a column. Pretty easy for them to pin you that way. You had to hit them pretty good to get them to lean off so you didn’t get crushed. Bitches. They’re bigger than you by far, and some of them know it.

  7. I had a cow step on my foot once, while standing on the concrete floor of the milking barn

    How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.

  8. Did’ja hear about the four Norwegians killed drinking milk?!!

    The cow fell over.

  9. i wound up with a few broken ribs after being maliciously attacked by a large bull in the custody of our local pasture police. locked in a custom built bovine detention center in rural wayne county, pa, i was sent in as part of a sanitation crew. he had his back to me the entire time i shoveled the soiled hay and sawdust from the concrete.
    without any warning he bucked his hind-quarters and flailed his hooves in my direction, fortunately i was still at the maximum range of his attack and was thrown back a few feet.
    months later, breathing easier and weening my thirteen year old body off the percocets i’d become addicted to, i had the pleasure of eating that prisoner’s flesh along with the freshly smoked flesh of a porcine transgressor from another encounter.
    dealing with these animals is a nightmare, the thought of living among them and like them makes my skin crawl.
    to this day i tighten inside everytime i see the miscreants loitering about as i travel through the countryside.

  10. In the great words of Homer Simpson:

    Mmmmmmm….unprocessed steak.

  11. I grew up on a farm (as well as a few other commenters) and cows are usually docile but occaisionally dangerous when they want to be. Some of them are more ornery than others, too. What caught my eye was the cow that attacked from behind. It reminded me of a particularly obnoxious goat we had years back. I was leaning over one or her kids (I forget why) when she came up from behind and headbutted me squarely on my butt, knocking me over in a most undignified way. I got up and looked to see who it was and all the goats were looking at me except for the one who was looking around “innocently.” Goats are smart. I’m glad they don’t have opposable thumbs.

  12. Don’t have a cow, man.

    Didn’t anyone ever teach you, Nipplemancer, never to stand or even walk behind a horse or cow?

  13. Obamaman will now ban cows “for the children” since it has come to light that cows have murdered over 20 people in the past. they must be banned, cows are not safe.

  14. I know a guy who was kicked by a cow apparently defending one of her calves. Just about tore his kneecap off. Worse than getting slapped in the face by a manure-laden tail.

    I agree with the article’s sentiment. Maybe we can come up with a “Richter” scale of risks.

  15. Guns don’t kill people; cows do.

  16. “they must be banned, cows are not safe.”

    If cows are outlawed, only outlaws will have cows.

  17. i was thirteen and it was my second day on the farm. i grew up in hoboken. the only rule i can recall that comes close is don’t let a politician stand behind you.

  18. Must…resist…pedantic urges…regarding bovine gender issues.

  19. I love Cows with Guns, but I didn’t realize anyone else had ever heard it heh.

  20. As a kid I spent a year and half as a ward of a state reform school where we were all required to have a job, I was selected to do my work on the dairy. We dairy workers were awoke each day at 5am seven days a week and marched out to the dairy, after washing several thousand teats and attaching and detaching the milkers I landed the coveted position of “back slap” where it was my responsibilty to cull out sick animals and those already tagged as having mastitis or other problems, and to control the driving them into the chute leading to milking stalls as stalls opened. After more than a year out there every day, I learned to valuable lessons a) getting a kid up at 5am seven days a week to put him to work is a great way to make him reconsider a life of crime. -and- b) cows are great people, give them a chance and open your minds to possibility, and they talk to you with those big brown eyes. We’ve had many great conversations, and more than a few times they told me how much they like humans, especially when we treat them with a little respect. Whether or not you believe talking to them is possible, as I well know it is, it’s difficult to deny they give their all and very best for our benefit. You name it, milk, steaks, leather jackets, and so forth, we love these things, and should appreciate the selflessness on the part of cattle in living to give them to us. To me it seems unlikely any cow would dust a human without just cause, maybe the cattle killed people were doing something cattle find appalling, I know from talking to them that they are very offended when humans do unnatural things like becoming vegetarians, they feel they have that angle covered, and people unwilling to eat the flesh they live to give are a bit too uppity and snobbish for their liking. What ever their reason, I’m sure it’s an understandable one.

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