Wiltshire is undoubtedly a beautiful rural county and agricultural dominates 73% of the landscape. It is only natural that people delight in exploring the open spaces but there is a need to respect the countryside too.
The Leonard family have been tenant farmers in Netherstreet and Roundway Down, outside of Devizes, since the 1890s. The farm has seen many changes over the years and has specialised in dairy, poultry and now high-quality beef raised predominantly on grass and home-grown hay. The herd of 77 Galloways is well-suited to the land was introduced by Jeremy Leonard to participate in the Environmental Stewardship Scheme.
“We work hard to raise high quality beef cattle on the land we rent. There are many benefits of rotational grazing and we work closely with Black Sheep Countryside Management to ensure that we work within all of the Stewardship Scheme guidelines which aim to improve the health of the countryside. It is imperative that we stick to our grazing plan so that the sward is grazed down to the correct length before we move the cows to a new field, this not only promotes plant diversity but ensures the cattle have good grazing to move onto and we can keep the herd together so they can be looked after properly. We use Electric fences as the Galloway coat is extremely thick, they are bred to withstand extreme cold, this means they can walk straight through barbed wire and so only electric fences will keep them and the public safe.”
“Over the past few months, we have experienced a range of anti-social problems; electric fences have been turned off, farm gates have been left open or shut when there have been clear signs about how the gates should be left. We have had numerous signs removed that say ‘Bull in Field’. As soon as a new sign is put up it has been removed again – sometimes in hours.”
“We just don’t understand why. Signs are there for a reason. We put them up to protect the public and to safeguard the welfare of our livestock. If an electric fence is turned off, cut or taken down the cattle will push through and start grazing in the wrong field or worse still hurt somebody. They may even escape the relative safety of the farm.”
“I am asking the public to respect signs and not interfere with the electric fences or gates. Many of our animals are named having been bred and born on the farm and with mums and babies currently up grazing with Jack the bull, it is even more important that walkers stick to public footpaths where they exist and respect the open access areas. We have all the details here and keep a copy in our Quadbike so people are always welcome to ask us if they have any questions about where they should or shouldn't be.”
“Dog walkers should also keep their dogs on a lead and clear up any faeces after their dogs as it can harm both the grass and livestock by causing cattle to abort an unborn calf. It is our livelihood that you are damaging.”
Wiltshire Rural Crime Team is asking people to remember the following when enjoying the Wiltshire countryside:
Tampering with farm signs and electric fences that are intended to everybody keep safe could have serious consequences
Please do not remove signs that are there to keep people safe and always leave gates how you found them - or follow instructions on signs on gates
Keep dogs on a short lead when around livestock
Clear up after your dog as faeces can harm cattle and sheep – and humans too!
Your actions can affect other people's lives and livelihoods.
If you see anything suspicious happening call 999 if it’s after the event report on line www.wiltshire.police.uk or call 101.