Saturday, July 20, 2024

Farming couple fined over horrific neglect of animals

A Far North farming couple aged in their 70s has been fined $29,000 and banned from dairy farming over a lack of feed and poor treatment of their farm animals.

Mathew Hudson, 78, and Josette Eleanor Hudson, 73, were sentenced in the Kaitaia District Court this week after pleading guilty to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act, following a prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI regional manager, animal welfare and NAIT compliance north, Brendon Mikkelsen says animal welfare inspectors visited the Hudsons’ farm in September 2020 following a complaint about the poor condition of their dairy herd and lack of feed.

“One of their cows was found suspended in hip clamps, because it was severely underweight and incapable of supporting its own weight. The animal was suffering pain and distress for days from the abrasions on its bony hip area and it was euthanised to end its suffering,” said Mr Mikkelsen.

“People in charge of animals are responsible for their health and wellbeing at all times. The Hudsons had kept this animal alive when they knew the animal was in extremely poor health and they did nothing until they were directed to by animal welfare inspectors.”

Animal welfare inspectors found their cattle were producing less than 5 litres per cow per day, considerably less than they would be capable of if appropriately fed. Grass cover at their farm was uniformly low, and they were not providing supplementary feed to their dairy herd, the court was told.

The inspectors concluded the Hudsons failed to provide proper and sufficient feed to all their animals. Of the 242 cattle at the farm, 69 cows were below the minimum standard of Body Condition Score, meaning they were too thin and needed urgent action to improve their condition.

“The Hudsons are experienced farmers who knew their responsibility to their animals and failed to live up to it. One of these cows was so thin, Mr Hudson used a tractor to drag it from a drain it was stuck in – leaving the animal with significant open wounds which were not treated,” said Mr Mikkelsen.

“When we find evidence of neglect and cruelty to production animals – we will prosecute. Most farmers do the right thing for their animals – providing supplementary feed when needed and timely veterinarian care,” he said.

In addition to the fines, the Court ordered the Hudsons to pay $18,213.72 in costs for veterinarian services and farm 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.

For media enquiries, contact the media team on 029 894 0328

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