A 65-year-old farmer from Cooma near Stanhope has been sentenced to three months in jail on animal cruelty charges heard in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court.
The farmer plead guilty to 17 charges of aggravated cruelty, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act over a failure to feed his cattle.
The man has appealed the sentence.
Agriculture Victoria District Veterinary Officer Dr Hannah Delahunty said inspectors found a herd of 90 dairy cattle in an emaciated body condition, with a number of cattle dead or too weak to stand in June 2016.
‘‘The pasture available to the cattle was insufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the herd, which included milking and pregnant cows,’’ Dr Delahunty said.
‘‘Throughout the period of offending, cattle continued to go down through weakness and were not provided with appropriate treatment.’’
Agriculture Victoria officers euthanased a number of cattle that were down and unable to rise.
In her submission to the court, Prosecutor Laura Krumins stated the farmer had failed in his duty to care for his cattle to the appropriate standards, by allowing them to fall into a state of emaciation resulting in death.
Magistrate Stella Stuthridge said they clearly died over a protracted period, struggled for days and had predators attack them.
During sentencing Ms Stuthridge also stated the herd was reduced by almost a quarter and the level of cruelty was extraordinary and prolonged.
The farmer has been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, imposed with a conditional disqualification order for five years, fined $2500 and ordered to pay service costs.
The order requires the farmer to engage the services of an independent veterinarian or qualified agricultural consultant to assess and report on the health and welfare of all farm animals. Due to the appeal, the conditional disqualification order has been stayed.
Dr Delahunty said this was a reminder that poor seasonal conditions were simply not an excuse to allow cattle to become emaciated and starve to death.
“All farmers have a responsibility to maintain Victoria’s reputation in farming practices and the livestock industry.
“The case served as a reminder that it is an offence for livestock owners to fail to provide for their welfare.”