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Shannon farmer starves calves to death – again

Tuesday, 14 June, 2016

Image of the second calf who was subsequently euthanisedA Shannon farmer has been convicted for the second time for neglecting calves until they die.

Carl Smith, 56, was convicted today in the Palmerston North District Court on charges of reckless ill-treatment of two calves, one of which died of starvation and the other had to be euthanised to end its suffering.

He was sentenced to 200 hours of community work, ordered to pay reparations of $712.40 and $750.00 towards solicitor’s costs, and disqualified in relation to production animals for five years.

This is the second time Smith has been convicted on these sorts of charges: in October 2011 he pleaded guilty in the Levin District Court to two charges, the first of failing to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of a calf were met, and a second charge of ill-treating a calf that died as a result of starvation. At that time he was fined $1200 and disqualified from owning and/or exercising authority over livestock for two years.

“It is extremely disappointing that the defendant in this case has repeated the same mistakes that led to his conviction in 2011 and inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering on these defenceless animals,” says Ric Odom, CEO Of SPCA New Zealand.

“However, the SPCA is grateful that the Judge has extended the period of disqualification this time in the hope that this will save more animals from suffering a similar fate at the hands of the defendant.”

Smith’s more recent offending was discovered on 3 July 2015 when, acting upon information received, an SPCA Inspector visited a paddock in Shannon. The Inspector found three, black-and-white, Friesian bull calves in the paddock, one of which was dead, another was unable to stand, and a third was in poor body condition.

The Veterinarian who attended found that the dead calf was poorly grown for its estimated age and its carcass was severely dehydrated and emaciated. There was a pool of faeces approximately 0.5 meters in diameter behind the carcass, indicating that the animal had been down for a prolonged period before death, which she estimated to have occurred about 48 hours earlier. She concluded that the cause of death was likely to have been dehydration, emaciation, and severe parasite burden.

The second calf was also poorly grown and in emaciated body condition. Due to the severity of its condition, the Veterinarian recommended euthanasia and this was carried out. A post mortem examination revealed severe chronic malnutrition, and blood and faecal samples confirmed a severe internal parasite burden. The remaining calf was also poorly grown for its estimated age and was in poor body condition, probably due to a lack of treatment for worms.

The Veterinarian concluded that the first two calves had been subjected to unreasonable and prolonged neglect, which would have caused them unnecessary pain and suffering.

When interviewed the defendant confirmed that he had previously received advice from the SPCA and a veterinarian in relation to appropriate husbandry regimes. He acknowledged that the calves should have been drenched and that they needed more care than he had been providing. He agreed that his lack of actions were careless and irresponsible.

“The SPCA hopes that this case will send a message to farmers throughout the country that they must keep on top of their husbandry and fulfil their responsibilities towards their livestock. Your animals are dependent on your care and the consequences of neglect can be extremely serious for them and you,” says Mr Odom.

Nicky Wynne, the Prosecutor from BVA The Practice, says: “The fact that the defendant has previous relevant convictions against the Animal Welfare Act is highly aggravating, and this type of repeat offending justifies a significant deterrent response.”