The Ministry of Primary Industries is investigating animal welfare on a West Coast dairy farm, where 150 starving cows and 30 calves have been put down. Another 60 cows have been sent to a meat works.
About 700 cows are still on the leasehold farm at Rotomanu in the Lake Brunner area.
An animal welfare investigator last week found several dead cows there and the rest of the herd in various stages of starvation.
Most of the cows were either in calf or had recently calved.
MPI is investigating breaches of the Animal Welfare Act, but has not laid any charges yet.
Canterbury-Westland compliance manager Peter Hyde says the main concern right now is to ensure the surviving cows are being properly looked after.
Meanwhile,Westland Milk Products has stopped taking milk from the farm and is working with the ministry, farm advisors and vets to help care for the cows.
Chairman Matt O'Regan says the company had made efforts to help the farmer. But it appears none of the advice offered was taken and conditions on the farm deteriorated rapidly during the winter.