Meet Victoria

Our first 10th Anniversary Champion, Victoria Taylor, knows first-hand how your life can be turned upside down in an instant. A farm manager in Scotland, Victoria farms 55 beef cattle and 120 sheep, alongside husband Ben, and their three daughters.

Woman in purple hoody and headband pouring stock cubes into a trough from a red bucked watched by two sheep

Victoria Taylor

“I wanted to become a 10th Anniversary Champion for several reasons,” she explained. “I’ve found a lot of farmers hide their mental health. I’ve lost farmer friends to suicide. Farmers feel they can’t seek help and there is still so much stigma around it that we need to tackle. Everyone needs to feel that they can speak to someone.”

Having been the victim of a life-changing farm accident, Victoria is also keen to champion the importance of putting health and safety at the centre of everything they do.

It just gets overlooked. There’s a ‘it’s not going to happen to me’ attitude, but accidents can happen to anyone, at any time.

Coming from a farming background, Victoria always planned for a career working with animals. After studying Equine Behaviour, she set up her own business providing animal care services before moving to New Zealand where she spent six months working with show jumpers and six months on dairy farms.

“I came back to the UK and did a lot of travelling round the country, mostly working on dairy farms,” says Victoria. “I was doing a lot of relief milking and calf rearing, mostly in Devon and Hampshire.”

Her husband is a Game Keeper so, when an opportunity arose on an estate in Scotland for Victoria to take a farm manager role and Ben, the head stalker role, they jumped at the chance and relocated to Scotland with their family in 2023.

It was not long after making this move that Victoria had an experience that changed her life.

“We had the vet out to treat one of the cows,” she explains. “The farm had been fitted with a brand-new cattle handling system before we arrived – you’ve got the holding area where you bring them in first then you push them up a race and there are three different gathering areas where you can pen them up.”

Things started to go wrong when one of the cows in the second pen got her head through a cattle hurdle.

“The other cows in the pen with her were pushing and crushing her more. The vet was opening the gate to let them out and Ben had asked me to come and help him with the stuck cow,” continues Victoria.

“I walked over but the cow panicked and, before I knew it, I was sat up on a hurdle on the other side of the pen.

Cattle handling system in Scotland

The new cattle handling system that was installed before Victoria moved to the farm

“I don’t remember the accident but, apparently, the cow had charged at me and crushed me against the hurdle on the opposite side of the pen. Ben managed to swing the gate round to pull her the other way, while I pulled myself up onto the hurdle. I do remember being worried that my clipboard with the cow numbers was getting muddy and wet!”

Victoria recalls the vet being shocked by the severity of the accident and encouraged her to go to A&E.

“But I didn’t go! In fact it was two or three weeks later when I kept getting headaches and blacking out. I went to the doctors who gave me a big telling off for not going to A&E immediately!

“The MRI showed that four bones were displaced / rotated in my neck which are now pushing on the nerve. The way they are rotating, they are turned towards the spinal cord.”

Since the accident, Ben has taken over a lot of the practical work on the farm. “The doctors have said I can’t really do the practical work anymore and even carrying a heavy bucket could cause serious damage. It’s difficult because I’m a very practical person and it’s in your blood. But if I get another injury, I could be paralysed so, for me, it’s about trying to work around what I can do. I do a lot more of the paperwork now, sorting out the feed ration and making sure things are done correctly.”

One of the biggest challenges she faces daily is managing her ongoing pain levels. “I refuse to take pain killers during the day as I want to make sure I am alert when I’m working with animals, for both my sake and for Ben’s. We always make sure there are two of us for any work with the animals.

When you work with animals, they are unpredictable and can be dangerous. It’s so important that handling facilities are up to scratch otherwise you could be putting yourself in danger. Yes, we had a brand-new cattle handling system, but the bolts hadn’t been properly installed which would have stopped the cow lifting the hurdle from the hinge.

Victoria has always been very conscious of health and safety and the dangers posed by all animals. But there are always more lessons to be learnt.

“My accident has taught me that even if you think something is right you need to double check it yourself – don’t just take someone’s word. My advice to other farmers would be to always put safety first. Think about yourself. Your safety has to be number one.”

stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Meet Victoria

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