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Posted by portugalpress on October 08, 2018

A family who has been breeding signature Algarve sheep and goats for five generations has hit back at what it calls a barbaric social media campaign against its practices - “totally without foundation or even basic understanding”.

The ‘story’ cut a swathe over Facebook over the weekend.

It centres on what the writer dubbed “a mass factory farm for goat meat breeding” with “unimaginable” conditions, a “gut wrenching” smell and an “utterly inhumane” number of deceased goats, both adults and babies.

Horrified Paula Beaumont uploaded various heartbreaking photographs in a post that was rapidly picked up and shared by the Algarve animal-loving community.

Images released included one of the apparent “monster” who owned the animals - a man also described as “very educated” and a nurse at Faro Hospital.

Beaumont’s post went on to accuse GNR police of being “useless” and “heartless”.

They “simply couldn’t give a toss to what was going on with the animals”, she said, asking followers “please please please share this post, this monster of a person who thinks it is acceptable to behave and treat living animals like this. He needs to be named and shamed and answerable to his actions”.

Hundreds of people reacted to Beaumont’s post, with even more sharing it to their own groups and friends.

But the son of breeder José Neto explains there is much that Paula Beaumont seemed unable to appreciate.

He says her post has prompted his family to take legal action.

“If only she had taken photographs of the live animals”, he lamented.

“These two women just walked in and started taking photographs of the dead ones.

“These were there for a reason,” he stressed. “When animals die - and they do sadly die, sometimes as babies if their immune systems are not strong enough, or if their mothers reject them - we are not allowed to dispose of their carcasses. We have to wait for official entity SIRCA to collect them.

“SIRCA can take days, which none of us like, but that is the way it is. And that is why we had dead babies stored in buckets”.

“As for the adult goat with plastic bags round her head, again there was a reason. The man we have looking after the goats does not like seeing the changes to the eyes when they are dead, so he covers them up…”

“So much written in that Facebook text was totally over-exaggerated and uninformed.

“We are not a mass factory farm, for a start. We have only 250 sheep and goats and they roam. We call it “transumância” (transhumance: the seasonal movement of livestock between summer and winter pastures). We never stay in the same place. Once the animals have eaten the available pasture, we move on.

“This is the reason why they are no longer at the property…”

Beaumont’s Facebook post told readers: “All the animals have been removed. Removed where? This is the question we ask ourselves. Why wasn’t (sic) the animals saved?”

Beaumont and a companion took with them when they left two sickly kids from the farm, posting afterwards: “We manage to rescue two baby goats,which since have passed away RIP babies”

Aníbal Neto suggests the animals died because their rescuers fed them cow’s milk.

“It would have been fatal”, he said.

“We truly do not mind people turning up unannounced and taking photographs. But what we find barbaric is that these people turned up unannounced and took photographs only of dead animals, totally misreading the situation and remaining uninformed”.

The fact that they called his brother Michael a ‘monster’ was bad enough, but writing online that the farm dogs were starving and given the carcasses of baby goats to eat was “unacceptable”.

“The dogs eat kibble, not goat meat!” said Neto. “These were comments that have caused distress to my family which has great pride in what we have achieved over the years. Nothing we are doing is wrong. Our animals are registered, vaccinated. We are not monsters”.

Neto referred us to his family business’ Facebook page, which carries a short video explaining the difficulties this traditional niche has in the modern world.

Algarvian goats have all but disappeared and the Neto family is among only a handful of breeders keeping the race known as Ovelha Churra alive (click here).

If nothing else, this story shows how easy it is to whip-up a social media frenzy without all the facts.

Commentators went from suggesting Neto’s brother could be mistreating patients in Faro hospital to openly inciting violence against him.

Following contact from the Neto’s, Michael Neto’s image has been removed from the Facebook post.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Photo: File photo

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