Warnham farmer’s tips on keeping cattle calm

Harry Hewlett, Dawes farm farmer
Harry Hewlett, Dawes farm farmer

A farmer in Warnham has spoken of the benefits of talking and playing music to his animals to keep them calm during this stressful wet weather.

Harry Hewlett, of Dawes Farm, in Bognor Road, Warnham, is a farmer with a knack for keeping his livestock calm and collected as he has found that his animals appreciate him speaking to them and playing the radio for them in the winter.

“When we are handling the animals we talk to them. I’m not saying they know what we say, well, you would have to ask them that really.

“It’s just about reassuring we are going in and we are going to handle them. It would be exactly the same in a hospital. We have got to go in and be calm and quiet.

“They get very restless in the bad weather. Hereford cattle are a dosile breed and they can adapt to all climates but one thing they don’t like is getting cold and wet.

“Also because the ground is so wet it doesn’t take long for them to soil the ground to the point where they don’t want to graze on it any more and we have to move them from one field to the next very frequently.”

This discovery comes after a survey published by RSPCA Freedom Food last week revealed that 80 per cent of farmers in the south and south-east either play music, radio, sing or chat to their animals with nearly half claiming it makes their animals more calm and content.

“It’s the same with us,” says Harry. “If we go into an environment and people are shouting and rushing it makes you all tense.

“Also, we have to work with the animals in that we have to handle them so if there chilled out and calm it makes our life easier as well.

“We play the radio to the animals when they are housed over the winter. I have it on radio two but I’m a boring old so and so. When my daughter comes in she turns it to a more lively station.

Harry’s daughter Aimee agrees with the benefits of the radio for their sheep.

She said: “The buzz of the radio helps create a calm environment which can only be a good thing for the mums-to-be, and we find that the new lambs like it too.

“Talking and playing music helps us build a closer relationship with our animals and it makes us feel happy and relaxed too, which is good for everyone’s welfare.”

RSPCA farm animal scientist, Dr Marc Cooper endorses this technique.

He said: “Chatting to farm animals may sound daft but there is a clear welfare message behind Freedom Food’s survey. Like our pets, farm animals are intelligent, sentient beings and respond well to positive interaction.”

For more information on Freedom Food visit www.freedomfood.co.uk/farmanimalweek to find out more.