Two Tararua lifestyle farmers have been disqualified from owning or managing livestock for two years after being convicted of neglecting stock in Palmerston North District Court this week (10/02/2015).
Gavin Matthews, 47, of Pahiatua, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Animal Welfare Act of failing to meet the physical, health and behavioural needs of stock, laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). He was fined $5000, with vet costs of $630, and disqualified for two years from owning or managing production animals (not including horses or poultry).
Wendy Francis Hayward, also known as Wendy Matthews, 59, of Pahiatua, pleaded guilty to the same charge. She was fined $3500, with vet costs of $630, and received the same disqualification.
The offending was discovered when an MPI Animal Welfare Officer, acting on a complaint, visited a Pongaroa grazing block managed by the pair in October 2012.
The officer found lactating and pregnant cows in very poor condition with limited feed.
MPI sought advice from the veterinarian who said the property was “grossly overstocked” and there had been “severe and prolonged under feeding”.
The veterinarian said animals do not get into this position overnight and this level of underfeeding put them in severe risk of death.
The cows were gradually brought back to acceptable health under the animal welfare code for dairy cows under formal direction from MPI.
MPI had visited the property previously on similar complaints and had worked on mitigating animal welfare issues.
MPI formally warned Ms Hayward in 2010 that further animal welfare offending would likely result in a prosecution.
Judge Stephanie Edwards said significant ill health was a mitigating factor in setting the limit of the fine for Mr Matthews, and Ms Hayward’s fine was reduced for mitigating personal factors.
The maximum penalty for failing to meet the needs of stock is a fine up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison.