A 38-year-old Waikato man has pleaded guilty to cruelty and ill treating bobby calves.
Noel Pirika Erickson appeared in the Huntly District Court this morning facing 10 charges laid by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
The charges relate to the treatment of 115 bobby calves over two days at a Te Kauwhata slaughter house owned by Down Cow Limited in August last year.
Secret video taken by animal rights group Farmwatch showed Erickson throwing and dropping calves onto the ground, kicking and hitting them and dragging one under a gate.
The video was provided to MPI which launched an investigation which is still on-going.
Two independent veterinarians looked at the video and provided expert opinion on Erickson's treatment of the bobby calves and the injuries sustained.
The charges cover recklessly and willfully ill treating calves causing unreasonable and unnecessary pain or distress and serious injury.
They come with a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in jail.
Erickson, who will be sentenced on 28 July, was granted bail and ordered not to have any contact with animals.
Farmwatch said it was disappointed that its actions, rather than those of MPI, led to the prosecution.
A spokesperson for the group, John Darroch, said MPI needed to become proactive in investigating animal abuse.
"At the moment MPI is relying on complaints and its relying on people within the industry to speak up about animal abuse."
Farmwatch's John Darroch says he believed bobby calf abuse is still going on, and the guilty pleas vindicate the use of hidden cameras.
Ministry for Primary Industries said it takes animal abuse very seriously and it will not be tolerated.
A further four representative charges have been laid against a company and an individual in relation to alleged animal welfare offences involving bobby calves and the first court appearance is on 21 June.