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Dairy Farmer Placed On Home Detention, Disqualified From Being In Charge Of Animals Over Lack Of Feed And Welfare

A Taranaki dairy farmer has been placed on four months home detention and disqualified from being in charge of animals for 18 months over a lack of feed and welfare which led to some animals being euthanised.

Ray Ernest Nairn (56) was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday (21/5/24) after pleading guilty to eight charges under the Animal Welfare Act, following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Mr Nairn is an experienced farmer. He knew what his welfare responsibilities to his animals were, and he failed them. Some of these animals were sick, emaciated, and in such poor condition that the only option was to euthanise them. When we find evidence of deliberate animal neglect, we will take action and put the case before the court,” says MPI Regional Manager, Animal Welfare and NAIT Compliance, Joanna Tuckwell.

In November 2021, an MPI Animal Welfare Inspector and veterinarian inspected Mr Nairn’s 230 cattle following a complaint about their physical condition. Some animals were found to be severely underweight and in poor health because of a lack of grass cover and supplementary feed.

Several animals had to be euthanised, including a heavily pregnant and emaciated Friesian cow. Another cow suffering from a longstanding mastitis infection was also euthanised. The veterinarian noted Mr Nairn had continued to milk this cow twice daily, despite it having an open and discharging wound. Seven other underweight dairy cows were found to be receiving insufficient feed to maintain milk production without further weight loss occurring. Furthermore, a severely lame cow was sent to a meat processing plant following treatment.

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During the inspection, MPI Animal Welfare Inspectors directed Mr Nairn to dry off some cows to enable the animals to recover to a healthy weight and prevent further suffering. Animal Welfare Inspectors returned to the farm a month later to check that Mr Nairn was following the directions and found there were two cows that had not been dried off.

“Mr Nairn was directed to stop milking these cows, which he didn’t do, causing further suffering. Most farmers do right thing for their animals – providing sufficient and quality feed and timely veterinarian treatment. It’s disappointing that we had to again direct Mr Nairn to stop milking these cows for the sake of their welfare,” says Joanna Tuckwell.

Along with the home detention and disqualification sentence, a special condition imposed by the court was that Mr Nairn must undertake treatment and counselling as directed by the Department of Corrections. He was also ordered to pay $4597.13 in veterinarian costs.

Animal welfare is everyone’s responsibility and MPI strongly encourages 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.

For more information please email: media@mpi.govt.nz

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