after cows were found standing in 14 inches of faeces, urine and mud in order to eat from their troughs.

after cows were found standing in 14 inches of faeces, urine and mud in order to eat from their troughs. And the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) threatened to call in health officials unless conditions were immediately improved at Westover Farm near Daniel’s Head in Sandys Parish.

SPCA inspector Charles Whited visited the dairy and meat farm on Wednesday after receiving calls from concerned members of the public. When he arrived, he said he found about 25 cattle standing at the feed trough in varying depths of dirty sludge. But some cows at the farm, which provide milk to Dunkley’s Dairy, were buried so deep in the filth their udders were even submerged.

However, owner of the dairy farm Richard Bascome also got a ticking off for keeping calves, from newborn to eight weeks-old, tied to a fence throughout the cold, wet and windy conditions. Last night, Mr. Whited issued a warning to all dairy farmers on the Island to clean up their act or face possible prosecution, and he said the SPCA would be carrying out an Island-wide investigation. Mr. Whited said: “The cows did have dry areas to stand and lie down in, but in order for them to get to their food trough, they had to stand in up to 14 inches of faeces, urine and wet sludge. “No animal should be subjected to that. We contacted Mr. Bascome and told him it was not acceptable. “He assured us he would rectify the current situation immediately by releasing the cows to an alternative holding area. “He explained to us that he was preparing another feeding station on a concreted area, but the heavy rains had caused delays. “However, it really was not good enough and, as a result, we will be monitoring Westover Farm on a daily basis until the unsatisfactory conditions are rectified. “If they are not, the Health Department could be brought in and the farm could be prosecuted. The farm should have equipment to clean this area up.” However, Mr. Whited also said he was saddened to find such young calves tied to a fence, especially in such poor weather. He added: “When we got there, the calves were soaking wet and shaking with the cold and wind. There was nowhere for them to shelter from the rain and their ropes were only about three feet long. “The calves were aged between newborn to eight weeks. They were very cold. We have also asked Mr.

Bascome to do something about that.” However, last night Mr. Bascome said he was very upset and disappointed that he had been reported to the SPCA and said he had done everything right to protect his cows. He said the calves had to learn to be hardy to weather conditions and said they were well-equipped with their coats to deal with cold and rain, particularly as Bermuda was never that SPCA to watch dairy farmers He said experience had taught him that cows became more susceptible to illness, such as pneumonia, if they were kept inside.

Moreover, Mr. Bascome said he had kept cows all of his life and did everything to make sure they were well-fed and looked after.

And he said: “Of course, they were always thoroughly cleaned before milking.” Mr. Bascome said: “I have tried everything to stop these flooding problems, but there is nothing you can do in this wet weather. It is something all dairy farmers have to contend with, especially in places like the US and England where the weather is worse.

“I had the builders in before Christmas building a new area, but with the weather, work has been delayed. I was caught out.

“These animals are not mistreated, but they must go through the mud three times a day to feed. I have to feed them.

“However, they are not in any danger of getting foot fungus because I put them through a solution twice a month purely to combat that problem.

“I can assure everyone that these cows are very well looked after and it upsets me when people don’t understand. I am not the only person who faces these problems — they are normal.

“It is for a short time and then we will get right over it. Everything is in place for the work to begin again as soon as the weather gets better.

“I can assure everyone that I am dealing with the problem and there is absolutely no harm caused.” And MP Michael Dunkley, of Dunkley’s Dairy, said he sympathised greatly with Mr. Bascome and said he was not worried about the milk supply.

He added: “I know Mr. Bascome has a problem because he has been trying to clear that area and concrete it out.

“I think a lot of people, particularly in America, will be suffering the same.

“But the thing people should remember is that when these cows are taken in for milking, they are thoroughly cleaned.

“And tests are carried out every time on the batches of milk. If there was a problem, it would be picked up straight away. Richard Bascome is trying the best he can. Obviously, I care about the health and safety of the animals, but I am not overly concerned here.” Deep in sludge: Dairy cows at Westover Farm in Somserset have to stand in faeces, urine and mud up to 14 inches deep in order to eat from their troughs.

By Karen Smith The Royal Gazette