Couple highlight importance of working safely with livestock

Female and male farmer beside livestock on a farm
Alan Robertson

A well-known farming couple are looking forward to attending The Farmers’ Choir performance this month at Perth Concert Hall for a particularly poignant reason.

As well as being members of the Supporters’ Scheme run by agricultural charity RSABI, the couple are very grateful for the help they received from an air ambulance crew when a typical morning four years ago turned into a life-threatening situation.

In a video interview with RSABI, Carol and Richard Rettie share their experience in March 2019 when a bull panicked while being handled, saying they hope their experience will remind people to take a little extra time to minimise risks when working with livestock.

Carol, who runs a bull livery service with husband Richard, sustained very serious injuries – including five broken ribs and a lung puncture – and needed surgery to her eyes and ear after a typical day turned into a life-threatening situation.

Recalling what happened that day, Carol describes the bull in question as one of the quietest she had ever handled but her very tranquil, normal working routine changed dramatically when she was blow drying him ahead of a visit by a prospective buyer.

“I’d washed the bull and was getting him ready for blow drying when things changed completely in just a matter of seconds,” said Carol. “All I did was flick the drier flex to get a little more length to work with but that simple action startled him leading to me dropping the hose of the blower.

“The hose then started to snake underneath him because I couldn’t turn it off which startled him even more and I got slammed into the side against the gate multiple times. I remember slipping down the gate and thinking, this is it, I’m not getting out of this.”

Fortunately, there was a split second when the bull turned, allowing Carol to get out but she doesn’t remember much after that, other than lying on the concrete unable to see and struggling to breathe.

Richard was feeding some cattle nearby when he heard Carol, ran round and immediately called 999.

“The air ambulance arrived shortly after and they were brilliant. Given the discomfort Carol was in, there was no way she could have travelled to the hospital in an ambulance, and being flown there also cut down the travel time considerably on a busy Friday afternoon,” said Richard.

The couple are incredibly grateful for the medical support they received.

“I can remember the doctor who treated me on the way to Ninewells was so kind. I ended up being known as ‘the bull lady’ in Ninewells and I couldn’t have been treated any better by the doctors and staff there. I am so grateful to them all,” added Carol.

The couple are looking forward to The Farmers’ Choir concert, sponsored by United Auctions and compered by well-known farmer and comedian, Jim Smith, on Sunday 25th February at Perth Concert Hall.

Less than 200 tickets are left and are available from Perth Concert Hall Box Office, priced at £20 plus booking fee, with funds raised going to RSABI and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

Carol and Richard are urging people to take an extra few moments to assess risks when working with livestock.

“Anything can happen within just a few split seconds,” said Richard. “Just try to assess situations to see if there’s a safer way you can do things and avoid putting yourself in potential danger, even if it's something you’ve done a hundred times. Just be careful, don’t do anything unless it's necessary and please don’t take a chance.”

For more information about farm safety and the work of the Farm Safety Foundation please visit

Carol and Richard Rettie’s interview with RSABI is available to watch here: