Thousands of chicks die in £250,000 arson attack

Fifteen thousand baby chicks have been burned to death after arsonists attacked a barn. Five hours later, poultry farmer Jonathan Johns discovered that a £40,000 tractor had also been stolen.

Mr Johns, who runs Goose and Johns Farms near the isolated hamlet of Walton Highway, Norfolk, drove to his farm after a security company called him at 3am warning him that his alarm had been triggered.

He drove a mile to his farm before calling for fire crews. But it was too late to save either the barn or the chicks, with losses estimated at £250,000.

At 8am one of his workers then discovered that a £40,000 Massey Ferguson tractor was missing, as was a quad bike. The tractor was later discovered some two miles away. Mr Johns believes the thieves had planned to leave it for a few days, to see whether a tracker device had been installed.

Norfolk police are hunting for the suspected arsonists and also investigating whether the thefts were related to the fire.