A farming family has been left in shock after a calf was shot in the eye at point-blank range and killed.
Robert Carlton found the dead calf, still limp and with blood still pouring from its eye, in a field at Cherry Tree Farm in Dunchurch.
Mr Carlton, aged 54, said: “In all my years in farming I’ve never seen anything like this.
“We’ve all been left in shock – they are like babies to us. To me it’s like sticking a gun in a pram and shooting a baby.
“They would have had to get up real close.”
And the farmer, who has tended livestock since the age of 13, said: “I don’t know what I might have done if I’d caught them. I find it hard to understand the mentality of someone who could do this – inflicting this kind of cruelty on a poor defenceless animal.”
And he made an appeal to Facebook followers: “If you see anyone boasting about this – please contact the police.”
Mr Carlton made the grisly discovery on Saturday at about 5.45pm. “The calf’s mother was mooing and running around the field in a distressed state looking for her calf.
“We found the calf up the top end of the field. We think it had gone up to someone in the field because the calf might have thought it was bringing food.”
The field is near a bridle path which is also used by walkers and cyclists.
He found the dead calf with his sons Scott, aged 21, and Max, 14, who help him run the farm with his other son Ross, 17, and his partner Vanessa.
“The police said it was done by an air rifle. I think someone has pestered their dad for an air rifle – and this has what’s been done.
“If anyone knows anything, call the police before something else like this happens.”
Mr Carlton took over the 100-acre farm from his parents Ernie and Chris and has 60 head of cattle, with the calves staying with their mothers for six months.
He said it has cost the farm £800 for the loss of stock, buying a calf to take the mother’s milk to stop her getting mastitis and to dispose of the dead animal. The cattle have been moved closer to the house.