Farmer’s anger as cattle left “extremely distressed” after water feed turned off during heatwave

Boxted Hall Farm cattle at the drinking trough.

Boxted Hall Farm cattle at the drinking trough. - Credit: Josh Bates

A livestock farmer has been left shocked and dismayed after the water feed to one of his cattle troughs was interfered with on two occasions during the recent heatwave, leaving his animals in a distressed state.

Josh Bates, of Boxted Hall Farm, near Colchester, said the incidents happened on two weekends in June as temperatures soared.

On the first occasion, the tap was turned off. On the second, after Josh had the tap removed to prevent a repeat of the incident, the ball valve was twisted so that it could be turned off again. It meant the animals were left without water.

Josh, who keeps about 400 head of Continental cross cattle with his father, Michael, on their mixed arable and livestock operation, had been keeping about 50 head of beef cattle on the field, half of which were calves, on an area known as the Walnut, which has a public footpath around it. The water tank in the field is fed by mains water from a pipe connected to it.

“In all the years we have been farming with cattle, for 40 years and my father before me, I have never known people to turn off water to cattle in this heatwave we have had,” he said.


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“The Saturday three weeks ago at 9pm we could hear the cattle bellowing. We went straight down there to see what was going on. Someone had turned the water off.

“The cattle were extremely distressed - there had been 30C temperatures.”

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In their distress, the cattle had turned the tank over, he said.

“The cattle were making a lot of noise.”

Having fixed the tank and the water feed, they stayed with the cattle for about two and half hours, as it took a long time for them to calm down, he said.

There was then a repeat of the problem a week later, he said. He described the incidents as “callous”.

“I have no idea why anyone would turn water off to cattle,” he said.

“It’s animal cruelty in the extreme.”

Essex police said: “Police are aware of reports that that a water trough intended for cattle is believed to have been disconnected overnight between June 16 and June 17, and June 23 and June 24.

“This was near an address in Burnt Dick Hill, Colchester.

“We are working with the property owner and continue to monitor the situation.”

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