Two Hawke's Bay men have been jailed for 10 months and a third to four months' home detention, following guilty pleas to charges of sheep rustling and animal cruelty.
The court heard the offending began in January this year when Jonathan Dunick, 23, and John Kaka, 22, stole 31 lambs from David Ritchie's farm on the outskirts of Hastings.
The court heard the sheep rustling continued until late May with the help of Desi Cook, 23.
Prosecutor Josh Lucas says the sheep rustling had several aggravating features, including the manner in which the sheep were slaughtered.
Mr Lucas says the three were only caught when a police car stopped a vehicle in the Hastings suburb of Flaxmere and found 14 sheep tied up, two of which were dead.
Judge Bridget McIntosh says the men's offending, which took place over five months, was premeditated and serious.
Judge McIntosh sent Dunick and Kaka to jail and ordered they each pay reparation of $4,500. Cook was sentenced to four months' home detention and 100 hours of community work.
However, Mr Ritchie says the sentences do not reflect the seriousness of the crime and believes all three should have been jailed.
Mr Ritchie says he does not accept the argument put forward in court that the men were short of money and stole to put food on the table for their families.