VICTORIAN livestock farmers have been reminded of their animal welfare obligations by a guilty verdict against a Western District sheep producer charged with 20 acts of cruelty.
Former Hamilton district farmer, James Cowan Malseed, 60, then of Myamyn-Macarthur Road, Breakaway Creek, pleaded guilty in the Hamilton Magistrates’ Court to five charges of cruelty and 15 charges of aggravated cruelty to sheep on November 18.
The charges, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, involved a flock of about 1400 sheep on a property near Breakaway Creek in south-west Victoria in 2013.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) Prosecutor Tanyth Young told the court DEDJTR officers had attended the property on a number of occasions to assess the animals.
She said the purpose of the visits was to humanely destroy animals that had gone down due to starvation, parasite burdens and illness.
Officers sought to alleviate animal suffering by providing the owner with advice on the proper care of the animals and the details of assistance available for drought affected farmers.
Officers had also served “Notices to Comply” on the farmer but he had failed to take any significant appropriate action.
Ms Young said the continued failure by the farmer to attend to the sheep necessitated the seizure of the animals by DEDJTR officers.
Magistrate Mr John Lesser found the owner guilty of the 20 acts of cruelty. The farmer was fined $5000 and ordered to pay $290.34 in costs. An order was also made disqualifying the farmer from being a person in charge of farm animals for one year.
Cruelty case is a reminder to livestock owners
DEDJTR Senior Animal Health Officer Leon Watt said the case serves as a reminder that it is an offence for livestock owners to fail to provide for the welfare of livestock. All reasonable attempts must be made to ensure suffering and weak animals are euthanised and proper and sufficient feed is supplied to livestock.
Mr Watt said many livestock owners are currently affected by dry seasonal conditions. However, the vast majority take action in time to stop their stock from suffering.
“All farmers need to be aware that they cannot leave animals to die and even in the face of drought, they must make arrangements to either feed their livestock or to dispose of them by sale or euthanasia.
“We work closely with farmers affected by dry conditions and can provide information and advice on the best health and welfare outcomes for livestock,’ he said.
Where farmers fail to heed advice and fail to ensure the welfare of their animals, DEDJTR has a range of options at its disposal to ensure animals don’t suffer. Information on livestock management is available from DEDJTR Animal Health staff or at www.agriculture.vic.gov.au. To report animal welfare concerns call 136 186 or email –[email protected]
Sources: DEDJTR, Hamilton Magistrates Court.