A frustrated farmer is calling on walkers to close gates behind them after cows were let out for the third time this year.

Andrew Frampton woke up on Saturday to find 50 heifers and a bull had got out if their field after the gate was left open.

Mr Frampton, who has land south of Broadwindsor leading up to National Trust’s Lewesdon Hill, said he has had ‘so much trouble this year’ with people leaving gates open.

“Because of Covid, so many more people have been around and using the footpaths,” he said.

“Quite often, the dog walkers are brilliant, they are using it all the time, but I wondered if it was kids as there have been quite a few barbecues held on top of the hill and it was quit late this was done. The majority of people are absolutely brilliant, but I think it may have been some kids heading up to Lewesdon Hill for a few drinks and couldn’t be bothered.

“This is the third time this year it has happened. We have put chains on all the gates with clips, so people have to unclip the chain to pull the bolt to open the gate. With Covid, I wonder if people are thinking, ‘I don’t want to touch that clip in case someone else has touched it’. It was impossible for the cows to unclip the chain.

“It was a right mess; they were out for most of the night and got into a barley field and a field we were meant to cut on Monday for silage. If cow poo gets in with the silage, it can ruin 10 tonnes of it when it gets into the silage pit - it’s a right nuisance.”

Mr Frampton said that friends of his, who are also farmers, have also had similar problems but he was relieved that more damage was not done.

He added: “I know there are bigger issues but thank God they didn’t get onto the road or other people’s gardens - we have had that before. There was no damage done to anyone’s gardens or cars, that’s when it really hits home when they get out and cause accidents or go through someone’s prize lawn - that’s the phone call I dread.

“This is becoming more of an occurrence unfortunately and the last thing I want to do is padlock them, but we can’t carry on and need to come up with a way of solving it.”