Dairy NZ has welcomed the prosecution of an Invercargill-based dairy company and two of its managers over an “unparalleled” case of neglect, describing it as “appalling”.
Castlerock Dairies Ltd and the managers who ran two of its farms were sentenced in the Invercargill District Court last Tuesday on eight charges laid under the Animal Welfare Act.
The properties were run by Jared Matthews, 41, and Dean McMillan, 44, who both managed 700ha farms with 2000 cows each.
Castlerock Dairies was convicted and fined $37,500 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of more than $11,500, while Matthews and McMillan were convicted and fined $10,000 each, ordered to pay court costs of $130 each, and were both sentenced to 275 hours’ community service.
Dairy NZ animal welfare specialist Helen Thoday said it was a “sad slur” on the thousands of good dairy farmers who were committed to providing their animals with a healthy and safe environment, and farming to high standards.
“We welcome this prosecution by MPI, and the prosecution of anyone who does not look after their animals,” she said.
The offending involved a serious failure to maintain the lanes used by the cows to get to the milking shed on both properties.
The lanes needed constant maintenance to prevent lameness but that did not happen, a statement from the Ministry for Primary Industries said.
The lanes had been “torn to pieces” by constant use and were, in places, knee deep in thick mud and excrement, MPI manager of compliance investigations, Gary Orr, said.
The lameness suffered by the animals was “catastrophic”, with animals presenting such a degree of lameness that they could not be treated, and were in significant pain.
A total of 193 cows had to be euthanised and 761 required veterinary treatment.
A senior veterinarian described the situation as “disturbing” and the extent of animal welfare issues as almost beyond comprehension.
The suffering of the animals was “fully preventable”, Mr Orr said.
Otago Daily Times