Big fines for farmer follows 26 animal cruelty charges

Big fines for farmer follows 26 animal cruelty charges

Wool
Sheep were stuck in mud around dams while trying to get to water in 2019 and were attacked by crows, the court was told. File picture.

Sheep were stuck in mud around dams while trying to get to water in 2019 and were attacked by crows, the court was told. File picture.

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Another Victorian farmer has been fined for animal cruelty offences.

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Another Victorian farmer has been fined for animal cruelty offences.

After a four-day contested hearing, the Euroa district farmer was fined $50,000 plus court costs amounting to more than $26,000 for multiple animal cruelty and aggravated cruelty charges.

Appearing in the Shepparton Magistrates' Court last week, the farmer was also ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid community work.

He was issued a conditional order for five years to ensure the wellbeing of his livestock, to be monitored periodically by Agriculture Victoria.

The farmer was found guilty of 26 charges of aggravated cruelty relating to 26 seriously disabled sheep on his property in 2019.

According to Agriculture Victoria, in some instances sheep were stuck in mud around dams while trying to get to water and were attacked by crows.

The farmer was also found guilty of two additional charges of cruelty related to a flock of approximately 750 sheep that did not have safe access to drinking water.

Agriculture Victoria compliance manager Daniel Bode claimed the sheep were not being provided with safe access to water, along with inadequate supervision, requiring departmental officers to euthanise numerous animals.

The court was told drought could not be relied on as excuse in animal welfare.

Much of eastern and inland Australia, including areas of Victoria, was in the grip of a severe drought between 2017 and 2019.

Mr Bode said apart from the obvious pain and suffering of the animals in this case, 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 aw.complaint@agriculture.vic.gov.au

The Shepparton case follows a series of bans on owning animals which have been handed down in animal cruelty cases by the courts in the past year.

The emphasis on farming bans rather than big fines are becoming more common across Australia.

A Victorian sheep farmer was banned from owning sheep for 10 years after pleading guilty in Bendigo Magistrates' Court recently to three charges of animal cruelty.

The Marong grazier was charged for failing to supervise a mob of sheep, failing to shear sheep with excess wool growth and failing to obey a Notice to Comply.

As well as the decade-long ban the farmer was fined $3000 without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $117.

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Agriculture Victoria officers in 2009 investigated complaints he had failed to shear a mob of sheep for more than a year.

It follows another Victorian case, this one near Ballarat, where a farmer was banned for life from being the owner or person in charge of any farm animal.

The man admitted two charges of animal cruelty and one charge of aggravated cruelty leading to the serious disablement of two cows.

Authorities claimed his cattle did not have proper access to water or food and he failed to obtain veterinary care for two sick cows.

The farmer was also fined $25,000.

In the Bendigo case, government officials said two of the farmer's sheep were unable to walk as a result of not being shorn, one of which had to be euthanised on humane grounds.

Queensland and Victoria are currently reviewing their animal welfare laws.

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