9th April 2021


Rural Rap

DOG OWNERS ARE REMINDED TO KEEP DOGS ON LEADS AROUND FARM ANIMALS AFTER A LAMB DIED IN EASTWELL, reports the Kent Messenger.  The death at Eastwell Farm near Ashford is the latest in a number of tragic incidents involving dogs and livestock in Kent.  The lamb drowned while it was running away from an out of control dog.  Last month it was revealed that there had been 24 dog attacks on livestock in four months.  Since then, further attacks in Sandwich have left 10 pregnant ewes dead and one lamb seriously injured.

A KENT LANDOWNER HAS RAISED CONCERNS OVER A COLONY OF BEAVERS WHICH HAS ESTABLISHED ITSELF ON THE LOWER STOUR.  In letters published in Country Life and Arbor, Edward Barham has drawn attention to the presence of the species in Kent.  The Kent Wildlife Trust introduced beavers to its Ham Fen reserve some years ago; but they escaped during flooding, before appearing to establish a colony on the lower Stour, below Canterbury.  In his letters, Mr Barham recognises the benefits of beavers to rewilding schemes, such as water management and biodiversity, but raises significant concerns about the potential for environmental damage.  For example, rare cricket-bat willows, which thrive only in beaver-friendly locations, are rendered valueless almost overnight – in part due to the shock cracks created when the trees are so casually felled.  This alone will cause significant financial and business sustainability issues for one Kent-based cricket bat manufacturer, as his trees are literally eaten to a pulp and his investment lost.

A RECORD NUMBER OF FARMERS PARTICIPATED IN THE BIG FARMLAND BIRD COUNT, reports Farming UK and the CLA, among others. Participation in the annual nationwide survey of farmland birds more than doubled, despite bad weather and lockdown restrictions.  The land covered more than doubled to 1m ha, and 81% more birds were counted by more than 700 additional volunteers. The survey has shown some encouraging results: a total of 25 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded, with 8 appearing in the 25 most frequently seen species.  Starlings, Fieldfare, Lapwing and Linnet were the four most abundant red-listed species recorded, with over 112,000 spotted in total.  The most abundant birds counted were woodpigeons, starling, rooks, fieldfare and chaffinch.

FARMERS HAVE HIT OUT AT BLUE PETER FOR SUGGESTING CHILDREN SHOULD GO MEAT FREE TO SAVE THE PLANET, reports the Telegraph.  One farmer called the Blue Peter initiative “bloody diabolical.”  The BBC show is offering green badges for youngsters who can demonstrate they are “Climate Heroes.”  Alongside pledges to switch off lights and appliances when leaving a room, children can contribute towards their badge by eating vegetarian meals.  One farmer said: “we need to make sure we’re talking to our children about seasonal food, locally produced food, environmentally-friendly food, regenerative agriculture… this is what will save our planet, and meat has a part to play in it.”  Another, an arable farmer who was awarded an MBE for services to agriculture, said “targeting children to push the anti-meat agenda is a new low.”

A NUMBER OF THE UK’S RARE NATIVE LIVESTOCK BREEDS ARE STILL AT RISK OF EXTINCTION, reports the Telegraph and Farming UK, among others.  A new watchlist has been launched, showing that there are only 29 herds of Tamworth pig that registered offspring last year, and that the cow behind the first smallpox vaccine is at risk of dying out.  Other breeds at risk include the Cleveland Bay Horse, which credits the Queen among its surviving breeders, and the Old English Goat, which was the most popular goat in the 19th century.

UK GROWERS WILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS SATELLITE-DERIVED FIELD INSIGHTS INTO THEIR CROPS, reports Farming UK.  Hutchinsons, a UK provider of agronomic services, will partner with French start-up SpaceSense, a firm which specialises in satellite imagery analytics.  The partnership will provide insights in real-time, as well as a crop health monitoring solution that could provide information for growers even during cloudy weather.


RABI, Addington Fund, FCN, Forage Aid and RSABI, supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, have launched the Farming Help initiative.  The initiative is also being launched with the NFYFC, the NFU and the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. 
FARMING HELP recognises that this will be an anxious time for many farmers and farming families and periods of poor health or self-isolation may result in temporary practical difficulties on farm.  For help drafting a contingency plan, for practical local help with livestock, shopping etc, or to discuss your concerns and anxieties,

Contact 03000 111 999 or visit www.farminghelp.co.uk

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