Farmer Focus: Attenborough has put the wind up me

I’ve been shouting at the TV again.

After having an amusing conversation with Michael (the poor soul that organises my articles at Farmers Weekly) about farting, he said if I was to critique Attenborough, I should research facts and figures carefully.

Alternatively, I could write some nonsense using facts and figures out of context, just like Channel 4. For instance, when the blue whale breaks wind, its fart bubble is rumoured to be big enough to fit a cow inside.

See also: Defra commits to methane suppressants to cut emissions

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned). James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
Read more articles by James and Belinda Kimber

Another fact is that the population of this species has increased 2,500% in the past 50 years. Important detail though – there are estimated to be 15,000 blue whales, compared with 500,000 before whaling.

Figures can be misleading.

Similarly, US bison populations have fallen 93% since rifles were introduced. Now they stand at just 420,000 head. That’s a lot less farting.

And what about manatees? Interestingly, there is research to suggest manatees – which do not have a swim bladder – can adjust their wind to effect changes in buoyancy.

(Other bugbears of mine are soya-derived tofu and almond drinks. Check out the Colorado River, an amazing force of nature that carved out the Grand Canyon, but now barely reaches the sea after irrigating almond trees.)

A scholarship into animal flatulence seems a good idea. We farmers could travel the world, compiling large herbivore numbers and comparing them with pre-industrial revolution times.

My favourite tale is an antelope in Zambia that farts so loudly the local tribe can hunt it at night. I’d like to think my next article will be written on Diani Beach, where Michael and I will research these explosive trumps.

Any efforts to offset the carbon footprint of our noble mission, such as turning vegan, are much appreciated.

That said, some articles suggest vegan diets are “windier”, although meat diets can be too, depending on who you believe.

Beef is from sunlight harvested by plants, and is important as a high-quality protein in our diets. Being demonised for producing ruminant livestock isn’t fun, I think you’ll all agree.

But I reckon – and shoot me down for saying it – that even when all costs, time, frustration, mud, constantly shifting fences and disappointments are factored in, farming isn’t that bad.