Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Northland farmer fined for underfeeding cattle

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Guilty plea nets $30,000 penalty after hundreds of animals found in poor health.
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A Northland beef cattle farmer has been fined $30,000 for failing to provide adequate feed for nearly 400 animals.

Jeffrey Allan Wood pleaded guilty to six charges under the Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced in the Whangārei District Court, following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI animal welfare inspectors found 387 cattle in poor physical health because of a chronic lack of grass and a lack of supplementary feed, says MPI acting national manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance Brendon Mikkelsen.

“Most farmers do the right thing and Mr Wood is an experienced farmer and knew what he needed to do to feed and provide for the welfare of his animals.

“These animals were thin and fell well below meeting the standard of the Sheep and Beef Cattle Code of Welfare.”

Following a complaint from a veterinarian in July 2020, the MPI sent animal welfare inspectors to Wood’s Ruawai farm to inspect his animals, following up with a series of visits until October 2020.

In total 840 of his animals were examined. Some animals were affected by bad diarrhoea and emaciated. In one case, when Mr Wood was directed to euthanise a severely lame young bull to mitigate its suffering, the MPI found it still had not been done a week later, which Wood claimed was because he could not find the animal.

“These animals were suffering, and Mr Wood’s delayed action prolonged their suffering. He failed to meet the physical, health and behavioural needs of these animals. When we find evidence that animal welfare has been neglected, if appropriate, we will place the matter before the court,” Mikkelsen said.

Along with the fine, Wood was also ordered to pay $2834.80 in veterinarian expenses and $6057.97 in farmer consultant fees.

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