Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : September 2013 Contents 70 The Dairyman September 2013
ALOCAL dairy herd manager was
last month convicted in the Ashbur-
ton District Court on serious
animal welfare offences after the Ministry
for Primary Industries (MPI) brought
charges against him under the Animal
Welfare Act 1999.
Kevin Craig Smith, 38, was convicted
after pleading guilty to the wilful ill-
treatment of 154 dairy cows by breaking
their tails and failing to provide those
dairy cows treatment in relation to the
broken tails. In addition, during this time
he admitted to striking
the animals with a plastic
Smith had been
working on an Ashbur-
ton Dairy farm. As herd
manager, he was respon-
sible for the day-to-day
running of the farm and
the welfare of the two
herds of dairy cows,
consisting of 130 and
510 cows respectively.
He will be sentenced on October 14.
The maximum penalty the judge could
impose is a term of imprisonment not
exceeding five years or a fine not exceed-
Suspicions around Smith's treatment of
the cows were raised in April after an arti-
ficial Insemination technician working on
the farm heard a loud noise and sounds
of distress from a cow. When she went to
see what happened, she saw him looking
angry and a cow with blood coming down
its tail. Mr Smith took no obvious steps to
treat this injury.
After this incident, a veterinary inspec-
tion of the herd was arranged in late April
and found that 154 cows had fractures
in their tails that were clearly man-made.
MPI was alerted and a compliance inves-
tigation was initiated. During interviews
with MPI investigators, Smith admitted to
wilfully breaking the tails of a number of
cows and that he was ''sickened'' by what
he had done.
Peter Hyde, MPI Canterbury/Westland
District compliance manager, said Smith's
treatment of the animals under his care
was some of the worst he had come across
in his district. ''Bending and twisting tails
to force cows into the milking shed is
forbidden under the Code of Welfare.
''The defendant didn't
accidentally break the tails
trying to force the cows into
the milking shed, they were
deliberately broken after he
lost his temper,'' Mr Hyde
''This sort of behaviour
is totally unacceptable to
MPI and the wider farming
community. If animal
welfare abuse of this nature
is detected it will almost
certainly result in prosecution.''
''People in charge of animals have
an obligation to safeguard the welfare
of those animals. The vast majority of
persons in charge of animals on farms
and the industry take their obligations
toward good stockmanship very seriously.
Cases like this are very much the excep-
tion to the rule.''
It is important that stock owners,
farmers, the industry, associated on-farm
service providers and the public main-
tain vigilance and report animal welfare
concerns on our hot line 0800 00 83
33. Calls can be treated in confidence if
necessary. MPI and industry will continue
to work together to help ensure this type
of incident does not occur in the future.
Herd manager broke
cows tails, convicted
The Relocatable House Co.
for farm awards
ENTRIES for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environ-
ment Awards are now open (August 1), and
organisers are again expecting strong interest
in the popular competition.
Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Envi-
ronment Trust, the awards promote sustainable
land management by showcasing the work of
people farming in a way that is environmen-
tally, economically and socially sustainable.
Held in nine regions, the awards are open to
all farming and horticultural types.
NZFE chair Alistair Polson said all farmers,
including orchardists, vegetable growers and
viticulturists, should consider participating in
''Most people enter because they want feed-
back on how their farming operation stacks
up in terms of environmental and economic
sustainability,'' he said.
''Entrants receive valuable advice from
competition judges and other participants
on how to improve the sustainability of their
Mr Polson said many past-entrants had
also commented that their involvement in
the competition had helped their personal
development ''because they get to meet and be
inspired by a range of like-minded people''.
Entering the competition is easy and forms
are available online at www.bfea.org.nz
Mr Polson said farmers didn't have to have
the prettiest farm in the district to enter.
The National Winner of the 2013 Ballance
Farm Environment Awards was Canterbury
couple Craige and Roz Mackenzie.
As well as being awarded the prestigious
Gordon Stephenson trophy, the Mackenzies
received a range of prizes, including an over-
seas study trip.
Mr Polson said Supreme winners joined
a select group of New Zealand farmers who
would continue to meet for years to come.
''I believe it's a real life-changing experience
for these people.''
The defendant didn't
accidentally break the tails
trying to force the cows
into the milking shed, they
were deliberately broken
after he lost his temper
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