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Pig farms blighted by activist incursions tell of ‘basic’ steps to manage risk

Levels of activist incursions have been thrown into the limelight following months of heightened disruption in the livestock sector.

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Pig farms blighted by activist incursions tell of ‘basic’ steps to manage risk

Numerous outbreaks prompted industry leaders to call on their producers to follow basic steps to form a ‘culminated and effective approach’ to managing break ins.

 

The pig industry has been particularly hard hit with 2016 peaking as a difficult year for producers.

 

Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA), said the sector had been targeted with everything from journalists turning up on the doorstep with letters to activists and campaigners sneaking into sheds during the night.

 

She said many tended to keep material and footage under wraps before releasing it to the media.


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NPA chairman Richard Lister added: “People need to raise their game in terms of security and a lot of these things fit in with good biosecurity as well.

 

“A lot of the basic things people can do needn’t cost a great deal of money. And there are things in terms of dealing with the media which can be very difficult and very personal, and it moves to a level of harassment.

 

“It is a difficult game to play.”

 

Dealing with the media

Mick Sloyan, AHDB pork strategy director, said the first step is about being clear where the boundaries are.

 

“It is just being vigilant about areas, particularly areas with livestock where buildings can be more remote than people living on the job,” Mr Sloyan said.

 

“Do not make it easy for people. Part of the issue we have is people are actively entering farms without permission and they will plant cameras and trawl through hours and hours of footage.

 

“They can edit footage to make anything look terrible.”

 

He said pig units had a tendency to be left unlocked meaning people could openly walk into sheds without fear of committing an offence.

It left defence options significantly low for producers meaning farmers had only very few rights with the media and legal action.

 

As protocol, most pig farmers are required to have a dead pig bin but Mr Sloyan said leaving these unlocked was effectively another open invitation to activists.

 

“Those bins should be locked because we know for a fact people pull weaners out of the bin and put them on the floor to take pictures of them,” he said.

 

“We know of people leaving taps on or pulling pipes out to make it look terrible. If you see someone or find people in your unit, the first thing to do is ask them to leave – but do not get aggressive.”

The best option is to call the police, but do not confront them. “The pig industry catches it quite badly,” Mr Sloyan said. “Mainly because of the type of people we are dealing with.

 

“These are people with an agenda and this is not about the good of farming, it is about stopping all animals entering the farming industry.

 

“So if they say they have an interest in welfare, what they mean is they want to make sure no animals are farmed at all.”

Top tips from AHDB pork strategy director Mick Sloyan

1 – Use signage to let people know they are entering private property.

A lot of the time it is quite surprising. You can walk into a farm and people just do not know they should not be there. Say it concerns livestock and unauthorised entry may compromise welfare.

 

2 – Call the police

Ask them to leave politely and if they refuse, call the police. Do not get aggressive. They are compromising animal welfare.

 

3 – Disinfect clothes and boots

People ought to be changing clothes and boots as they move around the farm and keeping up with basic biosecurity measures. There is nothing worse than having a footbath that is two or three weeks old.

 

4 – Consider CCTV

There are some low cost CCTV options out there. On your own property you can put up whatever cameras you want.*

 

If people are around on the property it is important to know even if they do not appear to have moved or taken anything. If you know that has happened, talk to the NPA or Red Tractor, or even better, both.

 

*All security cameras must be in line with guidance from the Information Commissioners Office.

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