PS They Weren’t Joking!

Last Monday’s Country Leader showed a member of Animal Liberation holding a very strange contraption, a helicopter drone. It looked like something out of Doctor Who. And guess what? The date wasn’t April 1.

One of the reasons this man gave for flying these things over farms was that if they saw sheep dying of flies they could report it to the proper authorities.

I have a suggestion for you: report it to the farmers. Being on the spot they’ll be able to save them. Isn’t that better than reporting dead and dying animals to whoever the authorities are? Too late and after the fact!

I’d like to quote an 85yo retired farmer: When told of the drones he said, “Oh good. They should give them to the farmers. Then they’ll be able to take care of the animals themselves.”

Sadly, it is often very hard to detect flies on a sheep before it is too late. (Maggots release a toxin into the blood.) I doubt whether a person not trained in sheep behaviour would notice all but the most extensive instances of fly-strike. Sometimes, it only takes a tiny patch (5cmx5cm) to be toxic. If it is under the sheep’s belly it can be impossible to detect without upending the sheep.

The only real help is prevention, but chemicals are expensive and dangerous. I have always used long-acting chemicals that stay in the wool for a number of weeks and have sometimes wondered whether my stoush with breast cancer can be partly attributed to all the Diazinon showers I’ve taken over the years while putting sheep through the jetting race before we knew it was a carcinogen.

As mentioned, I don’t think drones would be very helpful in the matter of fly-strike in sheep, but calving heifers, now, that’s another story! I think longingly of sending out a drone to check my calving heifers instead of crunching over frost-embroidered hills, teeth chattering. Sneaking around so I don’t disturb them, close enough to see if they’re in trouble, far enough away to be safe if they get up and charge me. Heifers can become very upset when they’re calving and act completely out of character.

The farmers are reported to be unimpressed by the idea of drones, but when they think about it I’m sure they’ll see all the advantages of this new technology, just as the retired one did. The problem is that it is beyond the financial reach of most of us. The only one who seems to be able to afford it is Animal Liberation – thanks to the generous donations of its members.

But wait! Have we done an environmental impact study on this little gadget? Made sure it won’t terrify the birds? And is not noisy or  intrusive enough to spook our horses, stampede our sheep and cattle or put our hens off the lay? Yes? Excellent!

So how about it, Animal Libbers? Are you prepared to help the farmers help their livestock? Then, they’ll be able to save any poor animal they may have missed on their daily rounds.

I see this as a win-win situation all round: for the animals, the farmers and the activists.

Bring it on! Let’s do it!


One thought on “PS They Weren’t Joking!

  1. I can’t believe it wasn’t a joke! There must be a lot of money invested in setting something like that up. I’m sure the money could be better spent.

    It seems to me, the objective of Animal Rights groups and Farmers, such as yourself, are aligned, in that, you do really want what’s best for the animals.

    Employing drones to conduct spying undoubtedly categorises farmers as ‘the enemy’, and I don’t really think that is a positive step for animals. I can’t say that I’m extremely educated in all the processes undertaken by either group, but I would imagine, it would be far more positive for Animal Protection Groups to put their money towards creating programs where, for e.g., Farmers can voluntarily join to get an ‘animal friendly’ rating (like heart-approval ticks on food), and that way, it would involve the two groups joining forces to lay out some ground rules as to what is considered ‘animal friendly’ farming.

    Something like this would say – we don’t assume you all mistreat your animals, we assume that you care. Furthermore, the funds spent on spying, could be redirected towards going directly to the care of the animals. Imagine if Farmers could get ‘sponsorship’ from Animal Activist groups (if they meet voluntary guidelines) so that the money could be put towards more farmhands to check the stock, to ensure they are not fly-blown etc.

    Perhaps I’m too idealistic, and probably, too ignorant about all the processes. But I really don’t see how sending out drones helps animals. To me, it’s saying, ‘you’re the enemy’ and we just want to catch you out. How does that help a poor fly-blown sheep? Wouldn’t it be better to help employ more people so that a ‘human’ could pick this up and actually do something about it, before it’s too late for the poor animal?

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