152 cows euthanised on West Coast farm

March 20, 2015 | By More

Court House-Sept-2013-08A father and son responsible for a Westland cattle farm have been disqualified from owning animals after 152 starving cows had to be euthanised in one of the worst cases that farming officials and veterinarians had seen.

Robert James Ussher, 59, was sentenced on six charges of ill treating animals, and one charge of failing to supply sufficient feed, and Jeremy William Ussher, 32, was sentenced on a representative charge of ill treating animals, and failing to supply sufficient feed. They had pleaded guilty.

Defence counsel for Robert Ussher, Eymard Bradley, said Robert Ussher was a hardworking, capable farmer who worked long hours, but he blinded himself to the predicament on the farm and the herd.

He had taken steps to get the stock agent to visit the farm but the Ministry for Primary Industries got there first, Mr Bradley said.

Elizabeth Bulger, on behalf of Jeremy Ussher, said he had been absent from the farm for a long period, but had to accept his liability.

Prosecutor for the Ministry, Kathy Bell, said she was seeking a disqualification from ownership, or exercising authority over animals unless under supervision, for both men.

Judge Raoul Neave said the grand plans and grand beginnings of the two men spiralled out of control when Jeremy Ussher leased the property at Rotomanu, then went overseas and left it in his father’s care.

He said 152 cows were euthanised, and the remaining stock were starved and had parasites. The farm was grossly overstocked, the water supply was poorly maintained, and some animals were trapped in mud. There were dead cattle in drains and waterways, and the ministry and veterinarians said it was one of the worst cases they had encountered.

There was no aspect of deliberate cruelty, or setting out to harm animals, he said, it just became overwhelming.

He sentenced Robert Ussher to three months home detention and 250 hours community work. He has to pay $6779 costs to the Ministry, and is disqualified from owning or working with animals without supervision for three years.

Jeremy Ussher was fined $5000, has to pay the same amount in costs to the Ministry, and was disqualified for the same period.

Ministry spokesman Peter Hyde said that it was the largest euthanasia of dairy cows on a New Zealand dairy farm, and was a rare event.

The Ministry recommend farmers seek help at an early stage if they had a lack of feed, and stock were losing condition.

Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers, and the Rural Support Trust could supply assistance and support.


Category: News

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