Farmer fined for cow deaths

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

A South Waikato dairy farmer was sentenced in Rotorua District Court today (17 July) for neglect and ill-treatment of cows that became malnourished or starved to death in his care. 

Tony Clayton, 54, of Atiamuri, was disqualified from owning or being the “person in charge” of animals for a period of two years. He also received 240 hours of community work, nine months of supervision and has to pay reparation costs of $3,100 plus additional court costs of $150 for both charges. 

Mr Clayton had earlier pleaded guilty to charges failing to ensure the physical, health and behavioural needs (neglect) of animals in his care, and reckless ill-treatment of animals resulting in death.

Ministry for Primary Industries District Compliance Manager Waikato/Bay of Plenty Brendon Mikkelsen says this is a timely reminder for farmers to seek help early if they have a shortage of feed.

“This sort of offending is preventable. MPI Animal Welfare Inspectors will often work through issues with stock owners, but would not tolerate negligence or cruelty.”

The reckless ill-treatment charge relates to two incidents where cows starved to death on Mr Clayton’s farm in late winter 2014.

In one case five cows died of starvation, as part of a mob of 19 cows that were confined to a silage stack paddock to forage the remains of the silage that had been fed out over winter.

In the other case seven cows in a mob died after being confined in a paddock with insufficient pasture cover and no supplementary feeding.

The neglect charge relates to 14 malnourished and diseased weaner calves that were in a mob of 120 calves on the farm in February 2014.

There was poor pasture cover and the calves were dependent of being fed with milk from a calf-feeder. Too much competition at the calf-feeder, nothing else significant to feed on and untreated diseases left these calves severely underweight.

MPI encourages anyone who suspects cases of animal ill-treatment or have animal welfare concerns to ring our hot line 0800 00 83 33. Calls will be kept confidential if necessary.

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