Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Woolly Business

It seems the breakout of sheep referred to in this post was connected with a change in grazier on the Eastern Moors as a result of the ending of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The Eastern Moors managers and the grazier who put his sheep on the moor didn't see eye to eye so the arrangement was terminated leading to a new grazier taking over when the CSS ceased and a new HLS started on the first of October.

It's interesting to speculate why this should coincide with sheep going out of control and invading other territory: so here's some speculation. Anyone seeing themselves as better informed is welcome to correct me. Despite some upturns in recent months sheep are not profitable for graziers and hill farmers. What makes the money is subsidies and Single Farm Payments which they get just for using the land for grazing according to the number of hectares. So there's no money in looking after your livestock and no incentive to go in for compassionate husbandry. That would explain why we see so many instances of sheep on the road and sheep looking less than healthy. I've referred before to the common practice of livestock being provided by a farmer living many miles away therefore in no position to adopt a caring role for the animals who we all thought were his livelihood. Despite news items in the media planted by PR people working for the farming industry about sheep being dug out of snowdrifts in a freeze up, reality is quite different. Because the main source of income for the farmer is the grants they care precious little for the animals themselves; and theres' no shortage of evidence for this; do they even count their sheep when they move them? Because, as in the present case, there are often a number left behind. If the animals themselves are not the key source of income then looking after them is not a priority. That's business. So much for all the faux outrage about dogs worrying sheep. All leads to not caring much about fences and whether every one of them has been accounted for something some local farmers were hardly famous for even when the old subsidy regime gave them £17 or so per sheep.

Anyway I've not seen the left-behind sheep for a few days so perhaps they have been caught or wandered off down the lanes into some rough pasture somewhere. The view expressed to me from the managers was that it might be weeks or months before they could be rounded up.

Now it looks like a fresh  batch of them has been legitimately dropped off on Blacka's enclosure.

These also will be financed via Single Farm Payment and Higher Level Stewardship. These welfare payments never seem to be the subject of a crackdown by Mr Duncan Smith. And what a sorry bunch these are to be representing the vogue for Cultural Landscapes, smeared all over with blue dye and as miserable as a bunch of disaffected teenagers with their trousers half way down their bums. And several of them were clearly lame. Does nobody in the conservation industry seriously question this process?  I thought not - not while the subsidies keep rolling in.

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