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Cattle Euthanased In Animal Welfare Investigation

26 July 2002

Cattle Euthanased In MAF Animal Welfare Investigation

Fifty severely emaciated livestock have been euthanased on a Northland dairy farm.

Earl Culham of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Special Investigation Unit said there was no other alternative but to humanely put down the starving cattle.

"This is a very upsetting situation for everyone concerned. The decision to slaughter was made yesterday in consultation with local vets, and an independent farm management consultant.

"The farm was heavily overstocked with 459 cows grazing on a 400-acre farm, 100 acres of which is in swamp.

"A farm this size cannot support such a large herd, the cattle were in a very poor condition," he said.

MAF responded to a tip off from a member of the public on July 4. Animal welfare inspectors from the Special Investigation Group visited the farm on July 5 and advised the farmer to find new pasture and supplementary feed for the herd.

"When no action was taken, we had no alternative but to intervene in what was clearly an extreme animal welfare situation," he said

Alternative grazing has been found for approximately 90% of the remaining herd and the farmer will retain 40 cattle. A number more appropriate to a farm this size given the amount of grazing available.

Under the Animal Welfare Act offenders can be charged up to $50,000 or three years in jail.


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