Thieves take newborn lamb from mother at care farm

April 27 2022

PEOPLE working at a farm which provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities have been left "shocked and upset" after thieves cut through a fence and stole a newborn lamb from its mother.

It is the second time in recent years that Elm Tree Farm, a social enterprise and care farm, run by charity Brandon Trust, has been targeted by criminals.

The farm team said the incident had left the lamb's mother and sibling "very distressed".

Around 80 people with a learning disability or autism – including some from the Downend, Staple Hill and Mangotsfield area – work at the farm in Stapleton, where they gain work skills.

The lamb was a rare Soay sheep, one of twins which had been born just four days earlier.

Soays are small sheep descended from a population of feral sheep on the island of Soay in St Kilda, off the West coast of Scotland.

Animal care project leader Declan Winslade said everyone at the farm had been "deeply saddened" by the theft.

He said: "We recently took delivery of some very special little sheep, who are called Soay sheep. They're so new to the farm that we hadn't even had time to post an update about their arrival. The lambs are much smaller and look very different to our other sheep and their lambs.

"They've been a huge hit with the people we support and the staff alike, but it was heartbreaking when we arrived to check on our little ones and discovered that someone had cut through one of our stock fences into the sheep field and stolen one of the twins.

"The theft has left the mother Soay and her remaining lamb very distressed, searching for the lost lamb. The gap in the fence also left the other sheep vulnerable. As a farm team we're shocked and upset that someone would do this. Without its mum, sadly the lamb’s chances of survival are very slim."

The theft took place from a filed at the farm in Park Road, sometime between 4pm on Easter Monday, April 18, and 8.30am the following day and has been reported to the police.

A police spokesperson said: "The lamb was male, with a brown and white face and purple spray on his belly. Our Rural Affairs Unit have been notified and we’ve issued an appeal through Farm Watch."

Anyone with information is being urged to call 101 and quote the crime number 5222 091 987. Information can also be given to the farm office on 0117 958 6206.

In December 2019 the farm was ransacked by burglars who stole money, woodworking tools, garden equipment and the farm's van. Individual donors, groups and businesses gave more than £11,000 to help the farm recover.