DOZENS of cows have been left starving in a West Dorset field, claim farmers.

It is understood that at least four animals from a 90-strong herd have died on land near Toller Porcorum in the last two weeks.

A Dorset County Council spokeswoman said the trading standards department were aware of the issue and would continue to monitor the herd.

The owner was ‘genuinely struggling’ to feed the animals, she added.

Farmers, residents and a retired vet are among those who spoke out about the dilemma.

One farmer, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s absolutely dire.

“They were moved to this land just after Christmas and they have just been getting thinner and thinner.”

Grass is scarce on the land where the cows have been left to graze, the farmer added.

“There is supplementary feed but it is being taken by the stronger animals, leaving none for the weaker ones.

“There has been a failure by trading standards because nothing is being done and all the time these animals are suffering and dying.”

A retired vet, who also did not want to be named, said: “It is a really serious issue and the local farmers are quite upset about it because they have to drive past on a daily basis.

“The bodies of several cows have been left in that field for days at a time, just covered in tarpaulin.

“Those animals have been left to suffer because action is not being taken quickly enough.”

The spokeswoman for Dorset County Council added: “Calls have been received by the trading standards animal health team over last weekend and the previous week about the condition of cows and the discovery of a total of four dead cows at a farm situated in Toller Porcorum.

“Officers from the animal health team responded immediately and after advice to the owner the dead animals have been removed. Officers also called in a DEFRA vet to check over the whole herd.

“There is now a management plan for the welfare of the remaining animals, about 90 in total, in place.

“The owner appears to have been genuinely struggling to deal with feeding the animals after moving them in from another farm.

“No formal action is expected to come from this incident unless the situation worsens.”

Ivan Hancock, trading standards service manager for Dorset County Council said: “We very much value reports and complaints from members of the public about the welfare of any livestock. We will be monitoring the safety and well-being of the remaining herd in this particular instance and are confident that the reasons behind the deaths of the four cows were not borne out of intentional neglect or cruelty.”

If any members of the public suspect there are welfare issues with farm animals, they are encouraged to call the trading standards animal health telephone number on 01305 224475.