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17 October 1996
Transportation of Re-Possessed Dairy Herd: No Legal Grounds for MAF to Prosecute
After a comprehensive investigation and a detailed review of all the relevant evidence, the Ministry of Agriculture has decided there are no grounds for taking legal action in respect of the dairy herd repossessed in Northland and transported to the Bay of Plenty in July this year.
The herd of was owned by Les and Colleen House, whose farm was sold in a mortgagee sale by the National Bank. The herd was later also re-possessed by Insurance Commercial Investigations Ltd on behalf of the National Bank to offset the remaining debt.
Approximately 180 cattle were moved in four truckloads over two days, and roughly half of the cows were in calf. Although one cow calved during the journey, this was a normal birth and both cow and calf walked off unaided at the end of the journey. None of the other cows calved for at least 48 hours after arrival.
The movement of the herd was overseen by a highly experienced stockman, and stock carriers who also had considerable experience. Evidence indicated they took every care to ensure that the animals were well looked after. They were transported in less crowded conditions than is usual and had frequent stops along the way.
The stock were considered to be in excellent condition both at the time of arrival in the Bay of Plenty and when offered for sale a week later. They were all capable of walking off the trucks when they arrived, were in good health and had no injuries or signs of rubbing.
The carrying of stock is covered by the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Transportation of Animals Within New Zealand. Although the Code was not complied with in every respect, when all the circumstances were weighed up, MAF was satisfied that there were no grounds for prosecution under the Animals Protection Act and that the chances of taking a successful prosecution were very slight. The Ministry was also satisfied that those involved had the welfare of the animals in mind at all times.
Media inquiries to:
Debbie Gee, Manager, Corporate Communications (04) 474 4258