Suffolk: Economic conditions implicated as cattle neglect claims soar

THE economic downturn has sparked a rise in allegations of cattle neglect, trading standards chiefs in Suffolk have warned.

Officers say they have had up to 20 such reports over the last year.

Assistant county trading standards officer Reg Ruffles said: “We feel the economic downturn has made things very difficult for livestock farmers and the cost of feed has gone up.”

The Suffolk Smallholders’ Society said cattle feed prices had soared by 30% over the last 18 months and warned if farmers continued to be squeezed more could end up cutting corners.

Last week, Ian Ogilvie was given a suspended two-month jail term and a lifetime ban from keeping farm animals. He had earlier pleaded guilty to 11 charges relating to cattle held at land near Aldringham Church, near Leiston. They included causing unnecessary suffering, failing to give his cattle adequate food and failing to report deaths.

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Ogilvie, 38, of Thorpeness, spoke of his regret after the case and said he had fully co-operated with the authorities.

“It was a bad period in our lives and nothing was intentional,” he added.

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Tim Brame, secretary of Suffolk Smallholders’ Society, said: “The rise in feed prices has been huge over the last 18 months – it’s risen by at least 30%. I think we’re going to see people cutting corners more and putting themselves at risk of prosecution and not looking after their livestock properly.

“And also people giving up livestock and being done with it, which for me would be the best option in that situation.

“I don’t think there’s any exaggeration in the graveness of it.

“It’s certainly not getting any better at all out there.

“I’ve no doubt there’s going to be more prosecutions coming in Suffolk.”

Alex Butler-Zagni, regional policy advisor for the National Farmers’ Union East Anglia, said: “Farmers are very concerned that they hear of cases like this.

“Livestock keepers can get into difficulty for various reasons and it’s important that they seek help at the earliest possible opportunity.”

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