A FARMER who made the drastic decision to close footpaths on his land to protect his cattle from a parasite picked up from dog mess has received support from the public – including dog owners.

Huw Rowlands, of Grange Farm, Mickle Trafford, near Chester, blames irresponsible dog owners for putting the lives of cows and calves at risk and costing his business thousands of pounds.

It led him to make the decision to close ‘permissive footpaths’, which is a path allowed to be used by walkers by the landowner rather than a public right of way, from October 31 this year – meaning that anyone entering his land along the A56 after this date could face legal action.

Since the Chester Leader and Standard broke the story last Tuesday, there has been an overwhelming amount of support for Mr Rowlands on social media.

Karen Murphy said: “I'm 100% with the farmer it's his livelihood and the well being of his cattle. I'm a massive dog fan and if I walk dogs I always take poo bags with me and keep dogs on a lead.”

Jan Steele said: “Couldn't agree more. I love dogs but people shouldn't have them if they can't clean up after them.”

Mona Walterson added: “How do you sympathise with people who cannot be bothered to clean up their dogs mess? No comparison can be made with someone trying to earn a living and look after the welfare of their animals.”

Steve Fox said: “Definately 100% behind the farmer it is his land and now his problem and cost to deal with, the fault lies with unthinking, uncaring dog walkers who's ignorance of the consequences of their actions (or lack of actions) has caused this issue.”

Martin Farmilo added: “Agree with the farmer here, it's his land he can do what he likes. Particularly bugged by his comments about dog walkers who bag the mess then hang it in a tree. I've often wondered why the hell people do that, hanging it up like it's a Christmas tree decoration or something. I mean, to take the trouble to bag it and then do that is just mind-boggling, makes you wonder what sort of brain these people have.

Chris Welch said: “Absolutely behind the farmer on this and other issues with ignorant selfish people who use farm land as a right of passage in this case cows but sheep have been savaged scared and miscarried I think all farm land should be out of bounds to the great unwashed.”

Grange Farm produces top quality Red Poll beef, produced to the highest environmental standards. Each animal is worth at least £1,000, and Mr Rowlands estimated the issue has cost his farm at least £15,000 with cattle having to be slaughtered and calves born dead.

Annoucing the closures of the paths next month, Mr Rowlands said: “Fields are not ‘just fields’ but grow crops either for our Red Poll cattle to eat, or to be harvested. Dog muck contains a parasite called neospora caninum which causes our cows to give birth to dead calves.

“Some of our animals have been infected due to dog walkers leaving their pets’ muck on the fields. There is no cure and infected cows have to be slaughtered.”

“Dog walkers who bag their dog muck and leave it hanging from fences and hedges are in addition responsible for the risk of cattle and wildlife choking and being killed by their refusal simply to take their mess to a bin.

“The welfare of our animals and wildlife is paramount and the risk posed to their health and wellbeing by irresponsible and trespassing dog walkers will not be tolerated.”