Farmer used hedge loppers to remove bull horns

18 July 2007

A livestock dealer pleaded guilty to six charges under section 29(a) of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 in the Morrinsville District Court yesterday for the ill treatment of bulls in his care.

Mark Arthur Atchison was convicted and fined $2700, including court and solicitors costs, for using hedge loppers to remove horn tips from six bulls.

The Hereford bulls were found with bloody horn stumps by a New Zealand Food Safety Authority veterinarian during a routine pre-slaughter inspection. The stumps showed that the sensitive tissue had been cut and exposed, and on some horns the surrounding tissue had cracks suggesting compressive chopping force was used to remove the horn tips.

The Animal Code of Welfare (painful husbandry) 2005 states that when de-horning animals over nine months, pain relief in the form of an analgesic or local anaesthetic must be given.

"In the opinion of the veterinarian, the removal of horns in this manner would have caused the animals a great deal of pain, distress and suffering, including the days following removal,” said Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) investigations Manager Greg Reid. “This sentence sends out a strong message that painful and barbaric procedures such as this are unacceptable.”

Mr Atchison admitted the offending in one case, and said the bull had broken a horn going into a race and that he had administered antibiotics and tar to the wound.

A subsequent search of the property revealed 14 cut off horn tips, to which the defendant made a full admission, saying he had always used the hedge loppers to remove horn tips.

MAF had previously notified Mr Atchison of the code of welfare concerning de-horning, and specifically the levels of pain and distress if de-horning was not done correctly.

"The defendant had considerable experience in farming livestock and had been made aware of the Painful Husbandry Procedures Code of Welfare, so there could be no suggestion of ignorance.

"Having little or no regard for the animals' wellbeing or suffering showed an unacceptable level of care," said Mr Reid.


Issued by:

Helen Keyes, Senior Communications Adviser
Phone: 0-4-894 0161 or 029-894 0161

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