Farmer who transported animals too ill to travel is sentenced

18 November 2015

A farmer who transported animals that were in considerable pain and too ill to travel has been sentenced.

Robert Sydney Smith of Oakfield Farm, Newton Lane, Tattenhall, was sentenced during a hearing at Chester Crown Court on Thursday.

He was issued with a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £350, in additional to statutory court costs bringing the total financial penalty to £500.

During the hearing the judge emphasised that the decision to prosecute had been correctly taken and the sentence reflected Smith’s previous good character and his current financial situation.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to one Animal Health offence in a prosecution brought by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Regulatory Services.

The court heard that in March this year, the Council’s Animal Health team were called by a vet working at Hewitt Abattoir to inspect sheep that had been brought in.

Four sheep were identified as showing lameness; they were unwilling to stand up and in pain.  The surroundings of their feet were swollen and red. Their ear tags identified that the sheep had been transported to the site by Smith.  Trading Standards were contacted and the vet moved the animals to a separate pen to conduct a full examination.

The vet confirmed that the four sheep transported to the abattoir had lesions in their feet, incorrectly trimmed hooves, ulcers and exposure of sensitive soft tissue underneath the sole.  Some sheep were using three legs only and, in the vet’s opinion, the animals had been neglected; suffered unnecessary and avoidable pain; and were not fit to transport to the abattoir.

If Smith had followed the correct procedure to get veterinary assistance for the animals at his own farm this would have incurred a cost.
The sheep were filmed to evidence their movement prior to being slaughtered for welfare reasons.  The video was shown in court during the hearing.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s, Head of Place Operations, Maria Byrne, said: “The Council will continue to take action against individuals who flout animal health and welfare rules, which are in place to protect livestock and ensure they are kept to the highest of welfare standards.

“The Council’s Animal Health team works hard to stop this type of situation from happening and to ensure that farming standards are kept to the highest possible level.”

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