Livestock and crop warning as lanterns blight farms

A growing trend of releasing Chinese lanterns at outdoor events is putting livestock, crops and farm buildings at risk, according to farmers.

Producers across the country have complained the lanterns, which are made of paper, bamboo and wire and can float for several miles before falling to the ground, were causing serious problems on farms.

Chester beef farmer Hugh Rowlands said one of his pedigree Red Poll cattle had been killed after it ate a lantern that landed on his farm.

“I found the remains of a Chinese lantern within a few yards of where the cow had been lying… and it had been well-chewed,” he told the BBC.

“Consulting the vet, his opinion was she had actually eaten part of the lantern and the fine wire inside it had punctured her oesophagus.

“So she’d in effect spent a long, painful 48 hours suffocating on her own feed.”

Pedigree beef farmer Pat Stanley of Coalville, Liecestershire, said the lanterns were “incredibly dangerous” and called for them to be banned.

“If we make silage in any of these fields this is all going to be chopped to pieces if we don’t see it and find it,” she said.

“That’s going to go into my silage clamp and next year I’m going to have dead cows.”

Other farmers who contacted Farmers Weekly said lit lanterns could also set fire to crops, straw or barns.

The NFU said it had written to the government over its concerns about the increased use of lanterns, which are traditionally released in Asia in a bid to bring good luck.

A union spokesman said farmers who have problems with lanterns on their land should write to venues releasing them and point out the possible dangers of them.