A MOVE by animal welfare pressure group PETA to encourage the public to spy on farmers has been met by anger in the agricultural industry, who fear it could lead to people trespassing on farms.

A full-page advert was carried in the Daily Post in North Wales, calling on members of the public to report 'sick, injured, abused, neglected and dying cows' on UK dairy farms.

Farmers hit back on social media calling for the advert to be removed, arguing that PETA should not be recognised as the authority on welfare matters, instead pointing out that genuine concerns should be raised with the likes of the RSPCA – not an organisation like PETA which would use information to add fuel to its anti-farming agenda.

Animal scientist and livestock sustainability consultant Dr Jude Capper agreed that poor animal welfare must be exposed and eliminated, but condemned the PETA advert and how it could lead to false interpretations and reports of farming practices.

On twitter she asked: “How many people would recognise untreated mastitis? Could your non-ag friends understand signs of distress in cattle? What is 'inappropriate' calf housing to the average High St shopper?”

PETA has been targeting regional publications to carry its advert and is reportedly looking to focus on areas where dairy farming is prevalent such as Shropshire and Yorkshire.

PETA senior campaigns manager Kate Werner commented: “If you’ve seen cows struggling to stand up, crying out after being separated from their calves, or mired in their own waste, PETA wants to hear from you. Routine abuse and neglect is taking place out of view of the public on dairy farms across the UK, and exposing this cruelty is the first step to stopping it.”