A community tired of “heart breaking scenes” on local farmland are today demanding to know why authorities have not investigated sooner.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed it has received “a number of complaints” about the condition of cattle at New Hall Farm, Roseacre Road, Wharles, near Kirkham, and this week vets were sent to inspect the animals, less than a day after the Evening Post contacted DEFRA about concerns raised.
The Mayor of Fylde, Coun Heather Speak, lives opposite the fields and has made seven complaints to DEFRA over three years. She said action should have been taken sooner.
She added: “It is disgusting to see the state the animals are in. They are filthy, covered in bald patches and some of the calves can’t even reach the feeding station.
“I’m a farmer’s daughter, and my husband works on a farm, so we know how animals should be kept. The situation is so bad I’ve had cyclists and complete strangers coming up to me voicing their concerns.
“If anybody else were to keep a dog like that, they would be prosecuted. I want to know why DEFRA haven’t acted in all of this time.”
Another local resident said: “We can hear the cows crying, and we know that means they’re hungry.
“The other day we saw a cow collapsed into a hedge and at first we thought it had been hit by a car, but it hadn’t.
“They’re also being kept in a field where there’s lots of maize stubble that’s very hard and isn’t good for them.”
Farmer Stuart Wilson, who lives at New Hall Farm, declined to comment about the cattle, but said he had sold them to another farmer on February 28.
When asked what the condition of the cows and bulls was like when they were in his possession less than a week ago, he declined to comment, but said they were currently “not too bad.”
DEFRA has confirmed that one of its agencies, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) are looking into the situation at New Hall Farm. It is also working with Lancashire County Council trading standards.
When the Evening Post visited, there were an estimated 60 cattle in the muddy field and they were bunched around the solitary feeding station.
Paul Noone, head of trading standards for Lancashire County Council, said: “When we are contacted with concerns about welfare of farm animals, we work with DEFRA vets to determine if action is needed.
“We have been contacted about a farm in the Wharles area and are currently working with DEFRA and other agencies to investigate the allegations.”
An AHVLA spokesman said: “Where necessary and where the evidence is available, the local authority, as the appropriate enforcement agency, may initiate prosecution action for offences.“
Fylde MP Mark Menzies was yesterday contacted by a concerned constituent and contacted DEFRA who promised to move the cattle. He said: “I now understand from DEFRA that the animals are being moved from the site to another farm where their condition can be properly assessed.”