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Cattle owner faces prosecution

PUBLISHED: 20:16 01 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:02 07 July 2010

Cattle waiting to be removed from the farm at Barnham.

Cattle waiting to be removed from the farm at Barnham.

Animal welfare experts spoke of their shock after witnessing weak and thin cows drop down dead at a Brecks farm.



A five-day animal rescue operation came to an end today as it emerged that a quarter of a herd of cattle within a field near Thetford had perished or had to be put down.

Animal welfare experts spoke of their shock after witnessing weak and thin cows drop down dead at a Brecks farm.

A five-day animal rescue operation came to an end today as it emerged that a quarter of a herd of cattle within a field near Thetford had perished or had to be put down.

The RSPCA launched an investigation on Friday evening after a member of the public reported concerns about the welfare of more than 100 cows at East Farm, Barnham.

The last of the remaining emaciated 98 cattle, including 20 calves, were loaded on to a trailer this afternoon and were transported to an unnamed private farm in East Anglia while the owner of the animals was warned that he faced prosecution.

Chief Insp Mark Thompson of the RSPCA said the animal welfare charity received a call at 4.50pm on Friday. Officers investigated to find the assorted Hereford, Limousin, and Charolais breeds in a field with no food or water.

A further 36 cows and calves were already dead or were put down by vets to end their suffering, he said.

“They were in a very poor bodily condition and emaciated. They were in a very bad way.”

“We would have never been able to move them on Friday. We were finding more and more down as we investigated. Some were already dead and some were not able to stand up.”

The owner of the animals, Edward Heading, is set to be interviewed by the RSPCA later this week.

The man, who farms the Euston Estate land at Barnham which is owned by the Duke of Grafton, refused to comment today.

Chief Insp Thompson said it would have taken months for the cows to get into such a condition and the situation would have been much worse if it had not been reported by a concerned member of the public. Tests are being carried out on four of the dead animals, but the cause of death is not believed to be disease-related.

The RSPCA had to get a special licence from Defra to remove the cows because many of the animals were not tagged. Many were so weak that a trench was dug at the entrance of the field todayto make it easier for them to enter their transportation.

“They will survive the journey and we will do everything in our powers to make it as stress free as possible for them. They have now been fed a good quantity of hay.

“We will take them away and care for them and give them any veterinary care they need and the owner of the animals has been advised that there is the possibility of a court case coming,” said Chief Insp Thompson.

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