28 Sep 2012

West Coast farmer sentenced for animal cruelty

7:29 am on 28 September 2012

A West Coast farmer has been sentenced to 350 hours' community service after admitting animal cruelty charges arising from an investigation at a Lake Brunner dairy farm in 2011.

Tjeerd Visser, 24, was employed as a farm manager on the farm, where Ministry for Primary Industries investigators found 60 dead and dying cows in August last year.

The ministry says 65 cows had to be put down, but the rest of the herd of about 1300 was saved despite being in very poor condition with little or no feed available.

It says overstocking, poor farm conditions, bad management and financial constraints contributed to the animals' plight.

However, it says Visser co-operated with the investigation and has since left the farm and undertaken training.

The ministry's regional compliance manager, John Slaughter, says the main lesson to be learnt is that farmers need to seek outside help when a crisis of that sort develops.

Judge David Holderness says the manager failed miserably by not alerting anyone to the farm's problems.