Thursday, June 20, 2024

Farmer fined $30k over emaciated cattle

A Northland beef cattle farmer has been fined $30,000 for failing to provide adequate feed, with Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) welfare inspectors finding close to 400 animals in appalling health.

Jeffrey Allan Wood, 69, pleaded guilty to six charges under the Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced yesterday in the Whangārei District Court, following the MPI investigation.

Animal welfare inspectors found 387 cattle in poor physical health due to a chronic lack of grass, and a lack of supplementary feed, says MPI acting national manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance, Brendon Mikkelsen.

“Most farmers do the right thing and Mr Wood is an experienced farmer and knew what he needed to do to feed and provide for the welfare of his animals,” he said.

“These animals were thin and fell well below meeting the standard of the Sheep and Beef Cattle Code of Welfare.”

Following a complaint from a veterinarian in July 2020, MPI sent animal welfare inspectors to Mr Wood’s Ruawai farm to inspect his animals, through a series of visits until October 2020.

In total, 840 of his animals were examined. The court heard that some animals were affected by bad diarrhoea and emaciated. In one case, when Mr Wood was directed to euthanise a severely lame young bull to mitigate its suffering, MPI found it still had not been done a week later, which Mr Wood claimed was because he could not find the animal.

“These animals were suffering, and Mr Wood’s delayed action prolonged their suffering. He failed to meet the physical, health and behavioural needs of these animals. When we find evidence that animal welfare has been neglected, if appropriate – we will place the matter before the Court,” said Mr Mikkelsen.

Along with the fine, Mr Wood was also ordered to pay $2,834.80 in veterinarian expenses and $6,057.97 in farmer consultant fees.

MPI strongly encourages any member of the public who is aware of animal ill-treatment or cruelty to report it to the MPI animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33.

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