Sentencing for bobby calf abuse

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The owner of a pet food company was given 6 months' community detention, 180 hours' of community work, and banned from owning or exercising any authority over production animals for 5 years at the Hamilton District Court today. His company was sentenced to pay a $90,000 fine.

The sentencing of Waikato company Down Cow Limited and its owner, Alan Martyn Cleaver, followed a long-running Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation and prosecution into bobby calf abuse.

The investigation began in 2015 and has already resulted in a slaughterman from the company being jailed in 2016 after MPI appealed his initial sentence of home detention.

MPI's manager compliance investigation, Gary Orr, said the abuse was unacceptable.

"These are vulnerable young animals, and they need to be treated humanely and ethically. The abuse was not acceptable in anybody's book.

"It's always unfortunate to have to take prosecutions in the first place, however, we were pleased to see the ban from owning or exercising authority over production animals, which we argued for strongly.

"MPI takes allegations of bobby calf abuse very seriously. Where there is evidence of mistreatment, we investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action including prosecutions.

"Industry is well aware of the expectations around bobby calf welfare and the regulations governing the welfare of young calves. There has been significant and ongoing dialogue and education within industry about these expectations.

"It's disappointing that some people continue to break the rules. Those people need to know that they will be pursued, and there will be consequences.

"This season, we have seen a material improvement in the condition of calves that end up in processing facilities, which is encouraging.

"However, we need to remain vigilant. We all have a role to play in animal welfare – if people see or have information about animal abuse, they should call MPI's hotline: 0800 00 83 33."

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