21 SEPTEMBER 1991, Page 28

Bostock's pit

Sir: Simon Courtauld (`Unquiet graves' 7 September) suggests that livestock farmers are not showing their customary self- reliance.

For animal casualties, the War Office used to recommend Bostock's Pit (published in Animal Management, HMSO, 1933, reprint- ed 1960 and perhaps since). An oval hole in the ground, about 7 feet long and 31/2 feet deep, it has a draught trench at the side. made one once, following the directions of that excellent book. On a rocky site it took two people five hours, with a pick-axe. In the following four days it reduced 33 cattle carcases to ashes and for all I know it is still serviceable. Today, a mechanical excavator would dig most of it in 20 minutes — hardly something that deserves a grant, and very little more work than one of the incompe- tent burials described by Mr Courtauld.

The general law is that someone generat- ing a nuisance, especially in the course of trade (in this instance, one hopes, a prof- itable one), has a duty to clear it up. To help, the Ministry of Agriculture might like to republish Bostock's Pit in a leaflet.

Nigel Hughes

Cumran House, Seaforde, Downpatrick