Six cows and four calves have died after eating poisonous garden trimmings fly-tipped on a farmer’s field in Hampshire.
Horrified staff found five of the cows and all four calves lying dead in a field that belongs to Newlyns Farm Shop, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, on Monday morning (15 October). A sixth cow received treatment from a vet, but could not be saved.
Farm owner Rob Jannaway said the cattle, all Hereford cross Shorthorn suckler cows, died after eating poisonous yew trimmings that had been thrown over the fence by a member of the public.
A post on the farm shop’s Facebook page, alongside a photo of the dead cattle, said: “Please share this with your friends to highlight the dangers of disposing of garden waste in fields. Farmers’ fields are not a dumping ground.”
The post has gone viral with more than 70,000 shares and attracted a large number of comments.
The needles and seeds of all yew trees are highly poisonous to horses, cattle, sheep and goats. Farm animals can die from ingesting just small amounts.
Mr Jannaway told Farmers Weekly: “We went to check the cows early on Monday morning and we were greeted by dead livestock.
“It was obvious they had been poisoned. We searched the boundary and found someone had thrown a couple of bags full of yew tree clippings over the fence.
“The lady involved was mortified. I don’t want to blame her, but the whole point of the Facebook post was to raise public awareness.
“The bottom line is that people should not be dumping anything on farmers’ fields. Another common problem is horses eating dumped grass cuttings, getting colic and dying.”
Mr Jannaway said he was saddened that some people had chosen to use the opportunity to post “vile” anti-farming comments on the Facebook page – but these comments had been challenged by others.
“These animals died and had a painful, miserable death as a result of someone’s lack of knowledge of the countryside,” he added.
“Whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan, you can’t get away from that. To come out with negative comments is a bit daft.”
Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed it received a report at 9am on Monday that cows had died in Hook Road, North Warnborough.
Officers have spoken to the owners, who confirmed that no further police involvement is required. Mr Jannaway said the incident has cost him in excess of £10,000 in losses.