A Southland farmer whose failure to care for his sheep led to their deaths has been fined $7,500.
Neville Stewart Harper, 62, was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court yesterday on 12 charges under the Animal Welfare Act, following a successful prosecution by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The court heard that on 21 July 2021, an MPI animal welfare inspector and veterinarian carried out an inspection of Mr Harper’s sheep. Eight sheep were dead, three had to be euthanised and 28 others were lacking sufficient food because of poor grazable pasture and low-quality feeding baleage.
“Most farmers do the right thing and Mr Harper is an experienced farmer and knew what he needed to do to feed and provide for his animals,” says MPI regional manager animal welfare and National Animal Identification & Tracing (NAIT) compliance, Murray Pridham.
“The deaths of these animals were preventable if he had lived up to his responsibilities under the Code of Welfare for sheep.”
An Animal Welfare Inspector found six dead ewes and two dead lambs about 500 metres from Mr Harpers house during their inquiries. Three other sheep were also found unable to stand, were unresponsive and had to be euthanised to end their suffering.
The 28 animals left alive were also in the same poor conditions and Mr Harper was ordered to destock the property within 24 hours under an Animal Welfare Act Notice of Direction.
“Two days later we saw the sheep at another of Mr Harpers properties about a kilometre away with sufficient feed, water and shelter. Clearly, he knew what he needed to do to look after his animals and should have acted to prevent their suffering. It should not have had to take a legal directive for him to take responsibility for their welfare,” Mr Pridham says.
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.