Inspired by his own first-hand experience, an entrepreneurial Isle of Wight farmer has launched a new service that could both improve animal welfare and also save the farming industry millions of pounds a year.
Livestock Lookout, developed by Tim Rogers of 250-acre Palmers Farm at Wootton, enables the public to report livestock welfare issues through a simple text service that privately alerts farmers to issues they need to attend and resolve.
Already supported by the IW NFU branch following a successful trial on the Island, Tim is now looking to roll the service out across the UK.
He believes the project connects the farming community with lovers of the great outdoors in a common goal of working together to ensure the countryside is a safer place for all who use it – whether animals or humans.
The service assists farmers by providing early alerts to all manner of issues requiring a quick response including dog attacks on livestock – which the NFU Mutual estimates cost farmers in the region of £1.3million in 2020 and the extent of which has recently been highlighted by a shocking survey by the National Sheep Association. Livestock Lookout can also help tackle other problems including escaped cattle, livestock theft, damage caused by straying animals and issues with gates and fencing.
With 140,000 miles of rights of way in England and Wales and with the vast majority of farms containing some form of footpath, bridleway or byway, passers-by can help provide a useful lookout. And with more people spending more time in the countryside as a result of changing habits in a post-COVID world, Tim believes his new service is becoming available at just the right time.
“The idea began to take shape earlier this year when a cow escaped from land we had leased to a farmer. The first we knew of it was via a post my wife Danielle came across on Facebook. By then it had become quite a serious incident. The cow had knocked someone over – thankfully they were not hurt too badly – and had damaged a car.
“After that we put up a sign giving our contact number in case there were any future problems. But all that did was generate unwanted phone calls from people wanting to use our land for anything from metal detecting and camping to motocross.
“It was clear we needed a more effective early warning system that also kept our own personal details anonymous – and that is exactly what Livestock Lookout does.”
Matt Legge, of MJL Farming, works various sites on the Island totalling 300 acres and he welcomes the extra peace of mind that Livestock Lookout brings. He said:
“Though we visit all the sites every day, an incident can arise at any moment so having this additional way of reporting incidents to us is really useful.
“We have a particular issue at the moment with ravens who can attack a sheep within 20 minutes of it turning onto its back so a quick response to incidents like that is essential.
“We are really pleased that Livestock Lookout is providing another way that issues can quickly be brought to our attention.”
Farmers can sign up to the new service via the website www.livestocklookout.com.