Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

Victorian sheep farmer pleads guilty to aggravated cruelty

Sheep Central June 26, 2024

A NORTHERN Victorian farmer has pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated cruelty involving sheep, and been fined $2000 and ordered to do 100 hours of community service.

Agriculture Victoria said recently at the Kerang Magistrates’ Court, northern Victorian farmer Bruce Cook pleaded guilty to three charges of aggravated cruelty and one charge of breaching an adjourned undertaking imposed in 2021.

He was also found guilty of transporting livestock not able to walk on its own.

Magistrate Lennon imposed a Community Corrections Order with conviction for 12 months with a condition Mr Cook perform 100 hours of community service as well as an aggregate fine of $2000.

Mr Cook was also re-sentenced for the 2021 offences which involved aggravated cruelty and failing to provide proper and sufficient drink for which he originally received an adjourned undertaking with a condition to pay $5000.

In re-sentencing, Agriculture Victoria said the court took into account that Mr Cook had paid the $5000 and he was re-sentenced to a fine of $500 with conviction. Costs were also awarded in the sum of $5288.33.

A control order was imposed for two years with conditions to provide proper and sufficient food, drink and water, to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment and monitoring.

Agriculture Victoria animal health and welfare compliance manager Daniel Bode said authorised inspectors attended a property in Lake Charm in March 2022 after receiving a complaint.

“A large, circular, concrete water trough partially buried in the ground contained seven deceased sheep plus one which was alive. All had exceptionally low body condition,” Mr Bode said.

“The trough was designed for larger animals as sheep troughs have shallower sides to enable them to escape if they enter.

“The water had faeces and debris floating in it and the carcasses had started to break down,” Mr Bode said.

“The trough was the only water source for the sheep.

“The sheep which was alive was unable to support its own weight and was euthanised by inspectors,” he said.

“A lamb with an injury to its limb, unable to walk was also euthanised.”

Mr Bode said apart from the obvious pain and suffering of the animals, animal welfare breaches can jeopardise Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food, which can affect all producers.

“This is a reminder to all livestock producers that animal cruelty will not be tolerated by the Victorian Government or the community.”

Anyone wishing to make a specific complaint in regard to livestock welfare can contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or [email protected]


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