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Fly Grazing Of Horses And Ponies

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Fly grazing is the term that has been adopted to describe actions by irresponsible owners who allow animals to graze on land where they do not have the consent of the landowner.

Reasons for the increase in the scale of the problem over recent years are likely to be due to the over production of horses (many of which are of poor quality) leading to a surplus of unwanted stock, a depressed market in horse sales, the high price of winter feed and the lack of available grazing land. All these factors have contributed to the fly grazing problems experienced across South and West Wales.

The practice of re-homing horses, seized as a result of fly grazing or abandonment, with equine welfare charities has now become unsustainable due to the fact that the charities no longer have capacity to take the large numbers that are being reported.

Since November 2011 South Wales Police have recorded more than 1,500 incidents relating to loose, abandoned and fly grazed horses. The costs accrued over the same period in dealing with horse related incidents by the police, Fire Service and local authorities (Bridgend and Vale of Glamorgan) amount to some £1.2 million.

Those affected by the nuisance of fly grazing include land owners who lose income and may be held legally responsible for the ‘dumped’ horses under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

There is existing legalisation that can help and local authorities are largely responsible for the enforcement of current relevant legislation, although the police have powers relating to obstruction of the highway and also any associated criminal damage (e.g. destruction of fences etc).  However as a preventative measure I suggest that if you are a landowner you take note of the following:

Firstly beware of the stranger who approaches you to rent land for whatever the reason given, especially if he offers a rent high above the going rate.  You may see one month’s rent and no more, being left with the problem of a field of ponies.  If it’s sounds too good to be true – it probably is!

Secondly the letting of land is usually best done through an agent who may know or be able to vouch for the character of the tenant.  Fly grazing could easily have an adverse affect on single farm payments.

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