Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Don’t feed foxes, says farmer

A SHEEP farmer from Whitchurch is urging villagers not to feed foxes after three of his rare breed lambs were killed.

Jonathan Steward has now lost five of his 200 animals to predators this year and he believes foxes or badgers are the likely culprits.

He says people shouldn’t put food out in their gardens as it draws the creatures in and when they have access to livestock, they often kill animals on instinct.

Mr Steward, a former infantryman who served in Northern Ireland, couldn’t work for many years due to post-traumatic stress disorder and only recently set up his business with support from the Help for Heroes charity.

He grazes his flock on about 12 acres of land which he rents and breeds the sheep mostly for wool or pedigree breeding.

Mr Steward said: “Foxes do not kill only to eat — they will kill as much prey as possible because that is instinctive to them.

“We do not breed sheep for food but as conservation grazers. People buy them because it is their hobby and show them at country shows or use them as ‘lawn mowers’ for large estates.

“Our sheep live a full life and we would like to keep it that way, especially as they are bred to keep those rare breeds alive.”

It isn’t illegal to leave food for foxes but authorities say they can survive without it and excessive feeding could attract large numbers as well as vermin.

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