29 May 2013

Sharemilking firm fined over animal cruelty

9:15 pm on 29 May 2013

New Zealand's largest sharemilking company has been fined $40,000 for breaching the Animal Welfare Act.

Milk Pride pleaded guilty earlier in May to a representative charge of animal cruelty relating to 392 cows on its Taharua Farm near Taupo in 2009.

The farm was owned by the Crafar family.

A trial for the case began in May, but ended when hundreds of charges against two of the company's directors, its general manager and a farm manager were replaced with the representative charge.

During sentencing at the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday, Judge Phillip Cooper said the summary of facts stated that the cows were part of a total herd of about 5000 purchased by Milk Pride from Taharua, part of the Crafar group of companies, in 2008.

The judge said a number of factors then came into play including a drought, a disagreement between the companies regarding the cows, feed issues and a storm.

In sentencing, Judge Cooper said the fine had to reflect a need for general deterrence.

"New Zealand does rely on dairy farming and its good international reputation in that industry can be impacted by cases like this. And so the fine must reflect that need for general deterrence."

The judge said he accepted that the under-feeding of the cows was not deliberate.