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Hawke’s Bay farmer’s neglect leads to death of 29 sheep

Hawke’s Bay farmer’s neglect leads to death of 29 sheep

A Crownthorpe farmer was sentenced today in the Hastings District Court for the death of 29 sheep that became entangled in blackberry.

Andrew Ormond, 45, who entered guilty pleas to 9 charges of ill-treatment under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, was fined $7000 and ordered to pay reparations of $529.

On 6 May 2013, acting on a complaint, Napier SPCA Inspectors attended Ormond’s property at Crownthorpe Settlement Road, about 35km west of Napier. The Inspectors found several hundred heavily fleeced sheep grazing in paddocks where a large amount of blackberry was growing.

Over two days the Inspectors found 49 sheep entangled in the blackberry, 21 of which were dead and in various states of decomposition. A further 9 sheep were found dead in streams, bogs, and open paddocks elsewhere on the property. Of the 28 live sheep, many had dead grass beneath them and large amounts of droppings around them, showing that they had been trapped for a considerable time.

As the Inspectors cut the sheep free from the blackberry, they found that four of the live sheep were in such a poor condition they had to be euthanised on the spot to relieve their pain and distress. These included one sheep with a broken hind leg, another that had been blinded and was too weak to stand, and another that had lost an eye and worn a deep groove in the soil trying to break free from the blackberry.

Another four sheep were found to be malnourished and emaciated. They were given veterinary treatment but their condition deteriorated and they too were subsequently euthanised. Eight sheep were euthanised in total.

When interviewed, Ormond admitted that he was aware of the blackberry problem but because his marriage was breaking up he was reluctant to visit the property. When shown photographs of the sheep he said he felt terrible for the stock.

“This is not a case of a farmer being caught out by last year’s drought or lack of feed, this is someone who simply allowed other areas of his life to take precedence over his obligations to his animals,” says Napier SPCA Manager and Senior Inspector Bruce Wills.

“It is one of the worst cases of neglect I have seen in more than 10 years of animal welfare enforcement. The level of suffering I witnessed on that property was severe and prolonged. It will haunt me for some time.”

The case is an example of neglect that is all too typical, according to Ric Odom, CEO of the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

“Here you have a farmer who owns hundreds of head of livestock but seems to have forgotten his responsibilities towards those animals,” says Mr Odom.

“Hundreds of sheep were placed in a paddock containing blackberry and left to their own devices, resulting in the entanglement and death of a large number. This is an entirely preventable situation that has caused unnecessary suffering and death.

“The bottom line is simple: if you own an animal you are responsible for its wellbeing. Whether you’re a farmer who owns livestock or a townie who owns cats, the lives of those animals are in your hands.”


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