A farmer who underfed nearly 300 cows and heifers has been fined $9,000, ordered to pay vet costs of $1,763 and faces permanent restrictions on the number of animals he can own.
Nigel George Rowan, 74, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Animal Welfare Act at the Hamilton District Court on Thursday.
The charges related to underfeeding 178 milking cows, 50 dry cows and a mob of 60 rising one-year-old heifers.
In addition to the fine and costs, Mr Rowan has been disqualified from having more than 250 cattle over the age of 6 months and 60 calves under the age of six months on the farm.
The court heard that the situation could have been managed, but Mr Rowan allowed conditions on his farm to deteriorate. Between 2018 and 2020, he received advice and a plan to improve the body condition of his animals from a number of parties, including his industry bodies and a farm consultant.
MPI’s Animal Welfare and NAIT Compliance Regional Manager Brendon Mikkelsen says people in charge of animals have responsibility for their welfare.
“Mr Rowan failed his animals by not taking opportunities to address the issues,” says Mikkelsen.
“Our Animal Welfare Inspectors, backed by a veterinarian, inspected all 288 cattle at the property and found the farm low on pasture.
“Supplementary feed was available but it wasn’t being fed out at a level that would improve the situation for his animals.
“The body weight of many of the milking mob was too low for milking and some of these animals had become emaciated, while others showed signs of stunted growth,” says Mikkelsen.
“Most animal owners take their responsibility to their animals very seriously. Our advice to farmers who detect issues is to take action early and reach out for help if needed.
"We strongly encourage any member of the public who is aware of animal ill-treatment or cruelty to report it to the MPI animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33.”