Farmers left demoralised after vandals burn and slash bales

A farmer and his team have been left feeling demoralised after vandals caused more than £2,000 worth of damage to their farm in Surrey.

Between 20 and 30 wrapped haylage bales were pushed off the heap at the farm, and many were sliced open and strewn across the field where they were stacked.

The culprits also attempted to set fire to the plastic bale wrap and rolled out a further 10 to 15 hay bales and set fire to a nearby fence.

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Farmer Luke Smith said: “We had one of the most difficult haymaking years for some time. Every bale was made with a lot of hard work and effort.

“They cost us a fortune to make this year because the cost of plastics and inputs has been so high. But we’ve got virtually nothing back. This is just demoralising.”

Fire-damaged wooden fence

The fire-damaged fence © Luke Smith

Mr Smith says the damaged bales cannot be re-wrapped and will have to go on the muck heap – and he will also have to repair the burnt fence.

He suspects a group of unknown youths is responsible for the attacks on 31 August and 1 September at the farm near Dorking.

On three separate occasions in August, Mr Smith had to ask different groups of youths, who he estimated to be 12 to 16 years old, to climb down from his stack of haylage bales.

Haylage spread across a field

Some of the bales were unrolled across the field © Luke Smith

Safety risk

“The bales are stacked four high in places. They are dangerous. Some of those bales are half a tonne each. What if one falls on them?” asked Mr Smith.

“It’s an out-of-bounds yard. Those kids have climbed the gate, gone up on top and had barbecues, or they were up there smoking. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Mr Smith reported the incidents to Surrey Police, but said the force was “not interested” in finding those responsible.

“They said there’s no CCTV, so they have no further lines of enquiry,” he said.

Farmers Weekly has contacted the force to request a comment.

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