Warning: Contains an image that may distress some readers
A farmer who lost at least 26 lambs and breeding ewes in the latest incident of illegal sheep butchery in Northamptonshire has told of his frustration and sadness.
Patrick Green, from Church Farm, Harpole, has spent his life breeding and raising sheep with his father, James.
Police called him in the early hours of Friday 30 August, after they found at least 26 of his lambs and New Zealand Suffolk cross Mule breeding ewes had been killed and illegally slaughtered overnight in a field between Duston and Harpole.
The sheep had recently been given medication and Trading Standards warned of “serious health repercussions” from eating meat unfit for human consumption.
“These sheep cost me a lot of money to buy. I’ve invested in them for the future of my farm and it makes me very sad to see them killed like this. I feel very empty,” said Mr Green.
The grim discovery is being treated as the latest in a series of illegal butchery incidents and sheep thefts in the county this summer. In total, more than 150 sheep have been illegally butchered since the start of the year, including 37 lambs in three separate incidents on a farm in Whilton, near Daventry.
Third-generation farmer Mr Green has been breeding to improve his flock for the past five years, shaping his farming operation to solely concentrate on rearing sheep in a bid to produce “the ideal, healthy animals”.
When officers broke the news of the illegal slaughter, he said his initial reaction was annoyance and concern about the cost, before the emotional impact hit home.
“I spend my life looking after my animals, to produce them for the food market healthily and safely, breeding for the future of my stock,” he said.
“I’ve never killed an animal, I spend my time looking after them so they have good lives, and then someone comes along and brutalises them like this, and I feel it very keenly.
“I look after 1,300 lambs on my own and care deeply for their welfare. Something like this really makes you lose your drive and lose heart.
“Farming is isolated enough as a profession. I’m not a wealthy businessman, this is a day-to-day business and I work hard for every penny I earn.”
Mr Green decided to speak out about his experience to raise awareness of the effect of illegal slaughter offences on farmers. He is encouraging anyone with information about the offences to contact Northamptonshire Police on 101 quoting Operation Stock.
Are you a farmer who has been affected by the illegal sheep butchery incidents in Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties? If so, Farmers Weekly would like to speak to you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details.