A DEVON farmer who caused unnecessary suffering to an animal has been given a 16-week suspended prison sentence, fined £6,970 and banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
Michael Rice, 68, of High View, Crediton was sentenced at Exeter Magistrates Court.
Rice also failed to ensure that animals had access to a dry lying area and failed to remove or fence off an area likely to cause injury to an animal under the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007.
The animals had access to an area which contained sharp edges and protrusions which could have harmed them.
The case was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service following an investigation into concerns for the welfare of his cattle.
Trading standards officers and a vet from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) visited High View in Crediton and discovered a bovine which appeared to have been unable to stand for several weeks with no access to water or supplementary feed.
Rice had previously been advised by a vet that if the animal’s health didn’t improve it should be culled. However several weeks later, when trading standards visited his farm, he had made no attempt to do so.
The APHA vet believed that the animal was subjected to ‘avoidable and unnecessary suffering’ under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 both by failure to cull without delay and failure to isolate the sick animal and house it in suitable accommodation with dry comfortable bedding.
Officers described the living conditions for the animals throughout the farm as generally poor, as several animals did not have a dry lying area and had access to sharp objects which posed a risk to their health such as farm machinery and rusty nails.
Rice was given a 16-week sentence suspended for 12 months and was disqualified from keeping cattle for 10 years suspended for eight months to allow him to arrange for the removal of his livestock.
District Judge Matson described the conditions on the farm as ‘appalling’ and the condition the bovine was left in as ‘extremely upsetting and distressing’.
Rice was given a £1,000 fine for the lack of dry lying area for his cattle and £750 fine for the sharp objects the cattle were able to access. He was also ordered to pay £5,106 in legal costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
Sharon Anderson, Group Manager Intelligence and Investigations for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, said: “Despite the efforts and previous advice offered by our trading standards officers and the APHA vets, Mr Rice continued to fall short of his legal obligations in respect of both animal welfare and his general husbandry duties.
“While our officers put emphasis on working with businesses to help them meet their legal obligations, they also work hard to ensure that traders who continue to flout the law despite previous advice are dealt with appropriately through the criminal justice system.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards said: “The welfare legislation for animals sets out very clearly the acceptable standards that those keeping animals must meet. Our staff work hard to try to assist and support farmers in relation to animal care, but when advice is repeatedly ignored we will take appropriate action and work with partners to prosecute those responsible.”