Cows breakout after Thames Water cut fence to fix burst pipes

A group of in-calf cows broke out onto the A25 in Surrey last weekend after Thames Water cut livestock fencing to fix a burst water main.

A private boundary fence at Manor Farm, Surrey, was left unattended with a large gap by the water company, which resulted in five Belted Galloway cows walking out into the busy A-road.

Paula and Laurence Matthews, who farm 1,200ha in the Surrey Hills, were left with a damaged fence and had not been contacted by Thames Water when the work was carried out.

See also: Railway fencing safety: What livestock farmers need to know

As a result of a section of fence being removed, the loose cattle on the rod created issues for the public, drivers and the police. Luckily, no animals or individuals were injured.

Ms Matthews said the cows are due to calve in four weeks’ time and had been put in the field as it had no footpaths for them to be disturbed.

“One of our team went and looked at the field and found they [Thames Water] had cut all the wire and had used it for access, and then just left the site,” she said.

“It could have been far worse, it could have been dark, there could have been an accident, people could have got injured and we may still find that one of the cows slips a calf,” she added.

“From this, lessons can be learnt and communications can be improved.”

Ms Matthews raised the matter on Twitter in the hope that highlighting it would in future improve communication with farmers before water companies go in and do the work.

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “We’re aware of the concerns raised by the customer and we apologise for any inconvenience caused by our work to fix a burst pipe in the area last week.

“Their complaint is being looked after by a dedicated case manager, who is speaking to the customer directly.”

Thames Water has since informed the landowners that it will be arranging for the stock fence to be repaired by a fencing contractor.

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