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Calls for action over claims of neglected cattle at Sevenoaks farm

An animal rights campaign group have called for action to help save cattle they believe are suffering from neglect and mistreatment.

Kent Animal Defenders say cattle at Oaks Farm in Halstead near Sevenoaks are knee deep in mud with no hay, and that poor conditions have been repeatedly reported at the farm.

Cattle at Oaks Farm near Sevenoaks
Cattle at Oaks Farm near Sevenoaks

The group took to Facebook yesterday to ask people to report their concerns to Kent Trading Standards and the government's Animal and Plant Health Agency.

They stated: "Craig Sargent has been allowed to get away with this for too long.

"Locals have spoken to us about years and years of neglect inflicted upon these animals, yet no authorities have done anything. Why? One of our team attended and gathered this evidence.

"The cows are literally knee deep in mud and struggling to move.

"There is also no hay available to them. The cows have been escaping a lot recently - as hungry cows do."

Cattle at Oaks Farm near Sevenoaks
Cattle at Oaks Farm near Sevenoaks

An RSPCA spokesperson confirmed: “We were told yesterday about cattle at a farm in Halstead, and an officer attended early this morning to assess the animals from the roadside as our staff have no powers to access land without the owners' permission.

"As this is a commercial farm, we've referred our concerns to the Government's Animal & Plant Health Agency - the people with the powers to deal with this - and have asked them to attend urgently.

"We are happy to assist should they require our help and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

An APHA spokesperson said: “We take potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and APHA investigates all allegations. Where welfare regulations are breached, appropriate action is taken.

“We do not comment on individual cases."

Trading Standards has also been approached for comment about whether they have visited the farm and if any action has been/ is in the process of being taken.

Farmer Craig Sargent said the claims of neglect were incorrect, and that the campaigners were ill-informed.

In December he denied there was any problem with the welfare of any animals on his farm, after a storm of criticism on the Facebook pages of Kent Animal Defenders.

"One of them said to me they look sad. I said have you ever seen a cow smile?"

And he maintained his position this week, stating the cows had food and shelter, and were not at risk in muddy ground.

"There's one cow there - a brown one - that has been thin for a while," he said. "We've had the vet and they've done various tests, and I've had that peer-reviewed. They can't find anything wrong and basically they're saying they would have to carry out an MRI scan. It' a bit of a head-scratcher."

As for the muddy conditions he added: "They tend to stand in that corner that's particularly boggy. They've got housing which has straw but they tend to be in that corner early in the morning. I've spoken to these people about it. They don't want to know, they just become abusive. They've even abused vets that have been there.

"One of them said to me they look sad. I said have you ever seen a cow smile?"

"With the internet you can just say anything you like, that's the problem."

He said he expected a visit from the APHA officials, and he would be happy to discuss matters further with them.

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