An Otago farmer has been fined $12,000 and banned from owning cattle following a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) prosecution over the death of more than a dozen cattle.
Carolyn Sybil Ireland, 55, was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court, after pleading guilty to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act, including reckless ill treatment and ill treatment of animals.
She was fined $3,000 on each of the charges, along with being disqualified from owning or being in charge of cattle for five years. Ms Ireland was also ordered to pay costs of $11,179.29 for veterinarians, cattle yard hire, musterers and trailer hire.
“Most people in charge of agricultural animals do the right thing – ensuring they receive timely veterinarian care and plenty of quality feed. Carolyn Ireland failed these animals – something that was evident during our intervention,” says MPI Regional manager, animal welfare and NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) compliance, Murray Pridham.
Ms Ireland’s farm at Omimi was home to around 60 sheep and 150 cattle when MPI inspectors attended the property in September 2021. They found serious problems including a lack of pasture, supplementary feed and six dead cattle lying in various areas of her land. Veterinarians concluded they were underweight and would have suffered prolonged pain and suffering before death.
Six pregnant heifers also had to be euthanised as they were too small to deliver a calf without suffering pain, distress, and eventual death.
On a return visit by MPI inspectors in October 2021 when all animals were mustered, four other emaciated cows were humanely euthanised.
“Since 2013, MPI has intervened several times at this farm because of animal welfare issues. It’s particularly disappointing to find such a poor situation when we’ve invested many hours and resources into trying to get Carolyn Ireland to do the right thing for her animals,” said Mr Pridham.
“When we find evidence of deliberate cruelty or welfare abuse – we will prosecute, and today’s sentence is the result of having exhausted all other methods of trying to improve animal welfare at her farm.”
Mr Pridham said Ms Ireland has been cooperative with an order to destock her property of all cattle.
In addition to the animal welfare offences, she was also fined $3,000 for failing to register 21 cows into the animal tracing NAIT system, something that is critical given the threat of foot and mouth disease, Mr Pridham said.
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.