$33,000 fine for sheep deaths

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

A Manawatu farmer got an expensive reminder about managing intestinal parasites in stock when he was sentenced for animal welfare offences in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday (19 November).

Paul Ross Henson, 48, of Rongotea, had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of reckless ill-treatment of animals and failing to ensure the needs of his animals were met, laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

He was fined $33,000 and ordered to pay $4,200 in veterinary costs.

MPI received a complaint to its animal welfare line in June 2015 about dead sheep at Mr Henson’s 300ha lease block at Peep O Day, 60km away from his home farm near Rongotea.

An MPI Animal Welfare Inspector found dead hoggets in varying states of decomposition, indicating animals had been suffering and dying for some time.

In total, 111 out of the 600 hoggets on the property were dead. A further 10 sheep were euthanised as they were unable to stand, in considerable distress and unlikely to recover. The remaining hoggets were in very poor condition.

An independent veterinarian put the deaths and poor state of the live hoggets down to severe gastro-intestinal worm burdens, meaning they could not get enough nourishment from their food.

MPI Manager Animal Welfare Compliance Peter Hyde said the hoggets would have died slow miserable deaths from a cause that was entirely preventable.

“Regularly observing the stock and drenching when required would have prevented this happening. It is the responsibility of anyone who owns or manages stock to ensure any signs or ill-health or injury are dealt with quickly to prevent suffering.”

The remaining hoggets were able to be returned to good health with a drench and being moved to another block where their health could be better supervised.

In a written statement, Mr Henson said he was working long hours on re-developing his home farm near Rongotea and this contributed to the issue at Peep O Day.

Report animal welfare issues

MPI encourages anyone who suspects cases of animal ill-treatment to call its animal health number – 0800 00 83 33. Calls will be kept confidential if necessary.

Download the sheep and beef cattle code of welfare [PDF, 789 KB]

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