Vandals caused up to £1,200 worth of damage when they slashed the plastic wrappings of 64 silage bales in the South Mainland, in what is believed to have been an act of “sabotage”.
Farmer Ronnie Obern, of Brake, Quendale, said he discovered the damage on Monday after returning from a farmers’ market at the weekend.
He said the bales were among 200 to 300 dotted around his holdings. They provided easy pickings for vandals, he said, because they were lying close to the road that runs by Mainland’s Shop.
Mr Obern had been planning to feed the bales to the 500 ewes, as well as some cattle, that he keeps on his land. He owns 90 acres of land and rents a further 200 acres in the area.
He said he had patched up the bales as best he could, but suspected they would be unusable if they became mouldy.
“It’s probably caused £1,200 of damage,” Mr Obern said. “They have burst open 64 silage bales. We can’t take a chance on feeding that to pregnant ewes or kye if they are mouldy.
“It amounts to a lot of money if you lose all those bales. I patched all of them up, and we would hope to get some of them, but you never know until you burst them open again.” He said he believed the incident could have been an act of sabotage inflicted by people jealous of his son Kevin’s success rate in breeding lambs.
On top of their farming commitments the family also runs the butcher shop J K Mainland in Lerwick’s Commercial Street, which they took over last year following the closure of long-established James S Smith.
Mr Obern said success in the butchers could also have sparked an unsavoury reaction among some people. However, he said a decision to concentrate on supplying local produce for the butcher shop was good for producers across the isles. “Folk are very possibly jealous that Kevin makes a good job of his lambs, and he’s been doing well with the butcher shop as well,” Mr Obern said. “He’s been buying up kye as well, and it gets the heckles of some people up. “But at the end of the day it benefits anybody that works with Shetland produce – there’s kye coming from Bixter and pigs from Walls.”
The police confirmed this week they were looking into the vandalism.
Inspector Eddie Graham told The Shetland Times: “We have received a complaint regarding damage to a considerable number of silage bales from a croft in the south end of Shetland.
“Enquiries are continuing and we are requesting that anybody with information contact us at the Lerwick police station.”