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Farmer Zoe Colville, from Maidstone, warns of fly-tipping dangers after five lambs poisoned

A farmer has warned of the dangers of fly-tipping following the death of five lambs, all who ate poisonous plants thrown in a field.

During the lockdown Zoe Colville and Chris Woodhead, who runs a farm on the outskirts of Maidstone, have seen an increase in illegal dumping and littering on their land, finding McDonald's wrappers, underpants, loo rolls and even on two occasions, human faeces.

Lambs were poisoned on a farm run by Zoe Colville and Chris Woodhead Picture: Zoe Colville
Lambs were poisoned on a farm run by Zoe Colville and Chris Woodhead Picture: Zoe Colville

On June 17, Miss Colville, 29, received a phone call at 5am from partner Chris, saying that he thought the lambs had been poisoned.

She described how they were frothing at the mouth, retching and unbalanced.

On the vet's instructions, the livestock were given electrolytes.

Miss Colville said: "Every time I gave them electrolytes they were screaming in pain, their tummies were so sore, I can only imagine it felt like it was burning them.

"I started farming two years ago but I have already seen a fair amount of animals die, we have had dog attacks. This was by far the worst I have seen. Sheep are resilient but the pain was so severe, it was incredibly hard to watch."

One of the plants which poisoned the lambs
One of the plants which poisoned the lambs

The condition of the animals went downhill within two or three hours, and a half-eaten plant, about a foot long, was found nearby.

When Chris cut open one of dead lamb's stomach, he found plant remains.

The plants found were a Pieris japonica and an Euonymus japonica.

The farmers, who have about 700 sheep across different plots of land, have spoken to the people responsible, who live very close to the field, and they have agreed to pay compensation.

This is not the first time garden waste has been thrown into the farm, but since lockdown the problem has increased.

'It took them a split second to chuck the plants over but we lost five animals...'

She says people don't realise the consequences of their actions and the people who threw the plants "just didn't think".

"They perhaps thought they were giving the sheep an extra snack, people don't think. They are not your animals to feed.

"It's a business at the end of the day. It took them a split second to chuck the plants over but we lost five animals. This is how we make our money and lambing season is the most important."

Zoe Colville with a lamb born only minutes before this photo was taken Picture: Zoe Colville
Zoe Colville with a lamb born only minutes before this photo was taken Picture: Zoe Colville

It's not just garden waste that finds its way to the farm.

"We only knew McDonald's had reopened because the litter increase was disgusting, and we aren't on a main road, we're in a little village.

"Because of a pandemic I really don't want to be picking up rubbish that people's hands or mouth have touched," Miss Colville, a former hairdresser, said.

Some five or six pairs of underpants have been also discovered, with faeces twice found close by, in a farm entrance.

In one of their worst incidents of fly-tipping, before the pandemic building rubble was dumped in a gateway, blocking an entrance to some of their land near Bluewater.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone


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