Farmer Convicted for Mistreatment of Dairy Herd

NEW ZEALAND - A 40 year-old Waikino farmer Laurens Barend Erasmus has been convicted in the Waihi District Court for the wilful ill-treatment of a significant number of dairy cows.
calendar icon 22 October 2012
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Mr Erasmus was sentenced to ten months home detention with judicial monitoring at three month intervals.

In late February 2012, a Ministry of Primary Industries Animal Welfare compliance team entered the property farmed by Mr Erasmus for the purpose of inspecting the dairy herd.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation found that he had been breaking his cow’s tails (115 of the 135 cow herd), hitting them on the hind legs with a steel pipe and stainless steel milking cups at the dairy shed.

MPI Waikato/BOP Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen said: “The inspection revealed serious animal welfare issues with cows on the property showing obvious signs of physical injuries and severe distress”.

Twenty-five of the 135 dairy cow herd on the property were euthanised due to the serious pain and distress they were in. Those injuries included broken legs, swollen hocks, weeping lesions, swollen joints and infections and fractured legs.

Under section 28 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 the charges laid against Mr Erasmus can attract a maximum jail term of five years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $100,000 and disqualification from owning and or exercising authority in respect of animals.

“Persons in charge of animals have a fundamental obligation for the welfare of those animals. The vast majority of persons in charge of animals on farms take their obligations very seriously,” Mr Mikkelsen said.

“MPI’s animal welfare compliance team cannot be everywhere so it is vital farmers, industry, associated on-farm service providers and the public maintain vigilance and report alleged Animal Welfare Act breaches on our hotline – 0800 00 83 33. Calls can be treated in-confidence if necessary.

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