Lamb Production

Victorian sheep farmer fined $5000 for illegal ewe caesareans

Sheep Central, May 1, 2019

A Victorian farm manager’s efforts to save two ewes and their lambs has cost her more than $5000.

A VICTORIAN sheep farmer who conducted caesarean sections on two ewes without pain killers or veterinary assistance has been fined $5000 for animal cruelty offences.

South-west Victorian farm manager Nicole Rowe pleaded guilty to four consolidated charges of animal cruelty in the Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court on April 12 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

The court was told the accused posted details of the operation on social media. Magistrate Franz Holzer fined the manager $5000 and ordered payment of $381.14 in costs. Each offence of animal cruelty could have attracted fines of up to $37,917 or 12 months’ jail.

A Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions media release said the court heard that Ms Rowe conducted caesarean sections on two ewes at the property. One ewe died following the procedure.

Ms Rowe is not a veterinarian and did not administer any anaesthetics or pain killers to the ewes during or after either procedure, the court was told. The internal and external wounds were also inappropriately sutured using dental floss.

Expert veterinary opinion was obtained that concluded both ewes would have suffered as a result of the actions of the accused, who should have immediately euthanised the ewes or arranged veterinarian attention for them.

Magistrate Franz Holzer said the procedure was inappropriate and that while the defendant may have been proud of what they did and thought it was ok, it was not. He also said the penalty should reflect an element of general deterrence, as the accused publicised their acts to friends on social media, who were also oblivious to the cruelty involved and were encouraged to try the same thing themselves.

Speaking after the case, leading animal health officer Adrian Murray said that people in charge of livestock must not cause unreasonable pain or suffering to their animals and must always provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment for a sick animal.

“This is a reminder to all livestock producers that animal cruelty will not be tolerated by the Victorian government or the community,” Mr Murray said.

Agriculture Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Dr Charles Milne said a caesarean is a complicated and painful procedure that requires a veterinarian and the use of prescription only medication to manage pain, potential infection and sedation.

“It is not acceptable for unqualified people to undertake veterinary procedures such as a caesarean, regardless of the costs of these procedures.”

Agriculture Victoria refused to identify the accused in their media statement, although her name was not suppressed by the magistrate. Agriculture Victoria has said it does not release personal details related to court cases, but shares the details of court outcomes for the purpose of general deterrence; to deter the public or wider community from engaging in or committing similar type offences.


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  1. Kerry Baker, May 4, 2019

    What a disgusting thing to do. She should have been banned from going near animals for life and fined the full amount available under the law. Presumably this was an attempt to save the veterinary costs.

  2. Maryann Streeter, May 2, 2019

    This person should have been fined much more, put in jail and had an order placed on her to not ever be allowed to keep, or be responsible for, any sort of animal. The fine is inappropriate.

  3. Ann Wallace, May 1, 2019

    A very distressing story. I can’t imagine the circumstances are that this farmer thought that what they did would be the right thing to do. Without hearing their side of the story, I would have preferred that the maximum penalty be imposed, but I think a more suitable result would have been to disallow the farmer from owning animals or livestock for ever.

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