Bullet and carrot

I read this in The Register this morning. An ‘operation’ in Northumbria taking twenty Policemen, a helicopter and no doubt several marksmen to take down one cow. Not a Steer or Bull, but a cow FFS! A milker at that.

Now I appreciate that cattle can be a risk to traffic on the highway, but shooting the poor bloody animal? Which was no doubt terrified with all these loud, whirly things and shouty black clad two legs chasing it. Now if the upper echelons of the Northumbrian constabulary ever drop by this humble blog, I have an alternative which may save their budgets. Instead of all those dramatic helicopter chases, shouting, urgent operational messages flashing through control, tracking the errant bovine via its cellphone signal and CCTV before a single crack! And down goes another enemy of the people, comrades. May I propose a solution known to all expert livestock handlers and rural Veternarians: a red bucket.

It’s a bit old school I know but when livestock escape, any old fashioned country copper would know where to find; A) A red bucket and a little dry cattle feed. B) A big, juicy bunch of grass. C) A properly trained Stockman who can be called upon to lure said errant bovine back into its enclosure who would understand the use of both. Back in the old fashioned 20th century, before whizzy Hollywood inspired Helichopper chases and brave, dedicated marksmen capable of dropping a Taliban Terrorist at a thousand metres, dealing with loose livestock was part of a country coppers daily round. At least in my neighbourhood. Livestock regularly got out because they broke down fences, were let out by ‘Animal rights’ activists, or simply wandered through a carelessly left open gateway. Sheep, cattle, pigs, Horses, chickens, Geese and even turkeys could regularly be found out of their proper enclosures. The solution was always the same. Red plastic bucket. Or a galvanised feed pail. Or call the nearest livestock farmer. Who would keep one as a matter of course.

The benefit of the proposed low tech solution is that first; it’s cheap, secondly the cow gets to live, thirdly, being a milker, it gets to dole out more of that lovely white stuff that with a little skill can be turned into smooth butters, excellent cheeses and yoghurts, or even drunk neat, if you’re not concerned about the low fat garbage some dietitians insist upon (A.K.A. The ‘cardboard’ diet).

Anyone who has ever had to deal with livestock knows the use of this high tech piece of rural technology. Red bucket, handful of gravel if no dry feed is available. Shake, rattle, let animal follow to nearest gated enclosure or pen. A bunch of grass or carrots and reassuring low pitched “Tch, tch” noises can be used, but these tools are only truly effective in expert hands, like a farm raised child of eleven. Pigs require a little more care as they do have a nasty bite, but that’s what a pig board is for.

Which is the downside of the red bucket and its ilk. It’s not dramatic. Teams of dedicated anti-terrorist units do not have to be deployed and the cost is minimal. Which, thinking about it, is probably why the Northumbrian Police didn’t look for one. What would all those highly trained marksmen and helichopper pilots do for target practice otherwise?

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