DIY farmers may be putting animal welfare at risk, warns TSI
Hobby farmers inspired by TV programmes advocating trendy self-sufficiency are warned not to underestimate the skills and knowledge required to keep livestock.
People are increasingly interested in not only growing their own vegetables but also keeping poultry, sheep, pigs, goats and even cattle, but there appears to be a lack of awareness of welfare issues and regulations.
Trading Standards Institute spokesman on animal health and welfare Jeremy Adams said: 'More and more people are doing the Good Life thing and keeping livestock. Some TV programmes give the idea that it is fun and simple to rear and keep your own livestock.
'We saw a case recently where someone was keeping a sow and a boar together in the same pen and the sow had become very thin and malnourished. It turned out this was because they were being fed together and the boar ate all the food - the owner was unaware of the pigs' individual nutritional requirements.
'Some people are getting into keeping animals without realising the full implications. Even if only a few animals are kept the same laws regarding welfare, identification and movement apply.'
Mr Adams said that many people were also not aware they needed to register the animals.
He said: 'During the outbreak of foot and mouth in Surrey a number of unregistered livestock keepers were discovered. If livestock are not registered, then owners will not be alerted in the event of a disease outbreak as to the measures that need to be taken. The ignorance of these owners made controlling the outbreak much more difficult.
'It is great to have pigs and cattle but if you are going to do this talk to Trading Standards, Defra, Animal Health or your local veterinarian and get advice.'
The recent prosecution of company director Nicholas Stickings in Cornwall highlighted just how badly things can go wrong when someone with no prior experience decides to start a free-range pig farm. He was fined £14,500, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £4,000, and disqualified from owning, keeping, dealing in or transporting pigs for 10 years.
Animal health inspector Jonathan McCulloch, who visited the farm, said: 'These pigs were kept in disgusting conditions. They had nowhere clean and dry to lie, most were covered in lice, and some had only mud to drink.'
The carcases of six animals were found lying in the fields and a further five had to be put down on welfare grounds.
Notes to Editors
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