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!