A first-hand experience on his own land has led to an Isle of Wight farmer starting up a new service to improve animal welfare.

Livestock Lookout, developed by Tim Rogers, of 250-acre Palmers Farm at Wootton, enables the public to report livestock welfare issues through a text service which privately alerts farmers to issues they need to attend and resolve.

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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 to ensure the countryside is a safer place for all who use it.

The service provides early alerts to all manner of issues requiring a quick response including dog attacks on livestock, which rural insurer NFU Mutual estimates cost farmers in the region of £1.3m in 2020.

Tim said: “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. 
"The cow had knocked someone over and had damaged a car.
“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."

Livestock Lookout can also help tackle other problems including escaped cattle, livestock theft, damage caused by straying animals and issues with gates and fencing.

Isle of Wight County Press: Tim and Danielle Rogers with the Livestock Lookout sign.Tim and Danielle Rogers with the Livestock Lookout sign.

Passers-by on byways and footpaths 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.

“Increased use of the countryside presents both a challenge and an opportunity,” said Tim.

“It is a challenge because some people will not be familiar with the Countryside Code, but also an opportunity as they also present a useful and plentiful source of eyes and ears for the farmer.”

The Livestock Lookout enables the passing public to alert farmers using a phone text system which is published on dedicated signage with a unique location number.

Reports to the number are relayed, via a central exchange directory to the subscribing farmer.

In a genuine emergency, a call can be generated to the farmer for even faster results.

Read more: Increase in dog attacks across south east region.

Tim said: “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 totalling 300 acres 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.

Robyn Munt, chair of the IW branch of the NFU said: “We are very happy to support our member, Tim, with this innovative and positive way of interacting with and utilising the increased numbers of people enjoying the British Countryside.”

Stephen Russell, policy and advocacy officer for the Ramblers, said: “Walkers can play a vital role as the eyes and ears of the countryside. However, it can be very hard for them to know who to turn to to report incidents of concern they come across.”

Farmers can sign up to the new service via the website www.livestocklookout.com.

A parallel service, Equestrian Lookout is also being rolled out shortly to help those with horses in stables and paddocks bordering footpaths and/or horses kept away from their owners’ homes.