Farmer fined $12,000 over animal cruelty

A SALE district farmer has pleaded guilty to 33 charges of animal cruelty, with 11 of the charges being aggravated cruelty.

The farmer was convicted in the Sale Magistrates’ Court, fined $12,000, and disqualified from being a person in charge of any farm animals for 10 years.

The charges related to the farmer’s failure to provide appropriate supervision, husbandry or veterinary treatment to 600 sheep and 130 cattle on a property near Giffard in 2013 and 2014.

In applying for the disqualification order, Agriculture Victoria senior prosecutor Michael Woods told the court the animals were subjected to prolonged pain and suffering, despite the fact the farmer had repeatedly been provided with advice and guidance by animal welfare officers.

Investigating officers continued to find a range of animal welfare problems on the farmer’s property including flystrike, parasitism, injury and on one occasion, a lack of water during a heat wave.

Some animals had to be euthanased.

Ultimately, the farmer’s failure to prevent further instances of cruelty on his farm led to the seizure of the sheep flock.

During sentencing, magistrate Walsh said the most serious aspect was that the department was involved over a period but the defendant did little to ameliorate the suffering.

“Livestock in your care must be your paramount consideration,” the magistrate said.

Agriculture Victoria leading animal health officer John Bodey said the case served as a reminder that it was an offence for livestock managers to fail to provide for the welfare of their animals.

“All reasonable attempts must be made to ensure treatments are timely and appropriate,” he said.

“All farmers need to be aware that they cannot leave animals to suffer and die.

“Preventing flystrike is the best management option, but if flystrike affects the flock, they must be treated promptly.

“Agriculture Victoria provides information and advice to farmers on health and welfare practices for livestock.”

Where farmers fail to heed advice and fail to ensure the welfare of their animals, Agriculture Victoria warned it would act to ensure that animals did not suffer.

Information on livestock management is available from Agriculture Victoria Animal Health staff or at www.agriculture.vic.gov.au

To report animal welfare concerns phone 136 186 or email aw.complaint@ecodev.vic.gov.au