A gang of youths has left a Leicestershire farmer £60,000 out of pocket after burning down a barn and releasing 100 cattle by opening sheds.

Farmer Andrew Rowland, of Tower Farm, Nuneaton, said he was thankful that the cattle were let out by the gang before the barn – which was full of hay bales resting on a row of tyres, a fork lift and a large feed-mixing machine – was set alight.

It took fire fighters nearly 24 hours to get the blaze under control, with everything in the barn being totally destroyed.

“This was a totally senseless act, which has cost me a lot of money. I am insured but I can’t afford to wait to replace the barn, stock and machinery,” Mr Rowland said.

The 70 heifers and 30 bulls set loose ran into an adjoining field which Mr Rowland said would “prove costly” in management and financial terms.