The New Zealand Veterinary Association says the sentence imposed on a farmer who broke 230 of his cows' tails sends a strong message to others working with animals that animal cruelty is not acceptable.
In Christchurch District Court this month, Michael Joseph Jackson was sentenced to 300 hours community service and banned from owning cows for five years, for failing to alleviate pain or distress in the 230 injured dairy cattle.
Veterinary Association dairy cattle president Neil MacPherson said that in his 22 years as a vet in the Waikato, he had not seen offending of that scale.
He said that for a cow, having its tail broken is like a human dislocating a finger.
Mr MacPherson said tail injuries will heal, but they may be misshapen or completely out of place, but the cow can make a full recovery and continue to be milked.
But he said at the time and for a few days afterwards it must be painful for the animal concerned.
Mr MacPherson said if farmers are twisting their cows' tails to get them to move, then they must do it carefully.