A farmer in the New Forest has pleaded with dog walkers to clean up after their pets after his cattle lost half of their calves due to contaminated grass.
Tom Gould cares owns about 40 cows near the Hampshire town of Ringwood and says half of miscarried their calves after being infected with neosperosis, a disease caused by a parasite spread through dog faeces.
Mr Gould said the impact on his herd will damage his business and urged pet-owners to clean up after their dogs.
He told ITV Meridian: “We are probably not going to be able to enter any heifers as replacements or increase the size of the herd as we were planning to do.
“The infected cows, their heifers, are all going to have to be blood tested to see if they are infected as well.
“It’s going to be quite a large blow and it’s going to take a few years to overcome this.”
He urged dog walkers: “Please, can you pick up your dog mess. Just that little bit well help us - and help all the commoners, not just me - immensely.”
Dr Alex Cook, a New Forest vet, also called for dog walkers to be more responsible due to the potential impact on cattle and farmers.
He told ITV: “The dogs shed their disease in their faeces. The cow comes along, even up to six months later and grazes around that area.
“It actually ingests the disease and then that disease can cause abortions and the cows lose their calves.
“More awareness by the dog walking public is essential to prevent this disease becoming widespread throughout the Forest, and I hope we can prevent other commoners being hit so hard as Mr Gould has been this year.”
Commoners are people who keep animals or occupy land in the New Forest under rights first set out in the national park’s charter more than 800 years ago.