Friday, April 12, 2024

Far North couple banned from dairy farming

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Poor treatment of animals and lack of feed also nets fine of $29,000.
Poor treatment of animals and lack of feed also nets fine of $29,000.
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A Far North farming couple has been fined $29,000 and banned from dairy farming over a lack of feed and poor treatment of their farm animals.

Mathew Hudson,  78, and Josette Eleanor Hudson, 73, were sentenced in the Kaitaia District Court on February 20 after pleading guilty to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act, following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI regional manager for animal welfare and NAIT compliance north, Brendon Mikkelsen, said animal welfare inspectors visited the Hudsons’ farm in September 2020 following a complaint about the poor condition of their dairy herd and a lack of feed.

“One of their cows was found suspended in hip clamps, because it was severely underweight and incapable of supporting its own weight. The animal was suffering pain and distress for days from the abrasions on its bony hip area and it was euthanised to end its suffering,” Mikkelsen said.

“People in charge of animals are responsible for their health and wellbeing at all times. The Hudsons had kept this animal alive when they knew the animal was in extremely poor health and they did nothing until they were directed to by animal welfare inspectors.”

Animal welfare inspectors found their cattle were producing less than five litres per cow per day, considerably less than they would be capable of if appropriately fed. Grass cover at the farm was uniformly low, and they were not providing supplementary feed to their dairy herd.

The inspectors concluded the Hudsons failed to provide proper and sufficient feed to all their animals. Of the 242 cattle at the farm, 69 cows were below the minimum standard of Body Condition Score, meaning they were too thin and needed urgent action to improve their condition.

“The Hudsons are experienced farmers who knew their responsibility to their animals and failed to live up to it. One of these cows was so thin, Mr Hudson used a tractor to drag it from a drain it was stuck in – leaving the animal with significant open wounds which were not treated.

“When we find evidence of neglect and cruelty to production animals we will prosecute. Most farmers do the right thing for their animals – providing supplementary feed when needed and timely veterinarian care,” Mikkelsen said.

In addition to the fines, the court ordered the Hudsons to pay $18,213.72 in costs for veterinarian services and farm consultant fees.

The MPI strongly encourages any member of the public who is aware of animal ill-treatment or cruelty to report it to the MPI animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33.

In Focus Podcast: Full Show | 23 February

Bryan talks with Fish and Game Southland manager Zane Moss, who addresses claims they’re blocking vital work to remove gravel in rivers and streams.

New Federated Farmers Taranaki president Leedom Gibbs also shares how she’s come full circle after leaving the family farm at 18 to seek a career in the city, only to finally find her happy place back on the land.

And, senior reporter Neal Wallace discusses worrying news from the Rural Support Trust which is seeing increasing numbers of dairy farm owners and workers seeking their support. He also has some advice for farmers from Fire and emergency NZ on how to avoid disaster this summer.

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