A West Coast dairy farmer was sentenced yesterday in the Christchurch District Court for serious animal welfare offences after failing to take care of his herd when 230 of his cows’ tails were injured or broken.
Michael Joseph Jackson pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to alleviate pain or distress in 230 injured dairy cattle under Section 11 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, reparation of $223 worth of veterinary costs and was banned from owning cows for five years.
Canterbury/Westland District Compliance Manager Peter Hyde said a veterinarian had discovered that 46% of the 500 cows had fractured or dislocated tail bones, or soft tissue damage to the tail as a result of a twisting or lifting of the tail. “This is the largest percentage of animals in a single herd we have seen that have been deliberately physically injured.”
The damage to the tails occurred from about the end of October, through to late December 2010, with the farm owner being alerted to the situation at that time by another farm worker. As a result, Jackson was suspended from his duties under suspicion of serious misconduct in the form of mistreating his stock and was advised of a disciplinary hearing. He later abandoned his position at the farm with no notice.
“This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated, and the court has made this message very clear.”
People in charge of animals have an obligation to the welfare of those animals, and the vast majority of farmers and industry take their obligations very seriously.
MPI’s Animal Welfare team cannot be everywhere so it is vital that farmers, the industry, associated on-farm service providers and the public maintain vigilance and report animal welfare breaches on our hot line 0800 00 83 33. Calls can be treated in confidence if necessary. MPI and industry will continue to work together to help ensure this type of incident does not occur in the future.