4 Jun 2021

Tokoroa farmer fined $17k for neglecting animals

12:54 pm on 4 June 2021

A Waikato dairy farmer whose neglect led to the death of 11 young cows has been fined $17,500 and been warned to improve his practices.

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File image. Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Rodney Nicol, 61, was sentenced in Tokoroa District Court yesterday after he previously pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Animal Welfare Act.

He was warned he could be disqualified from farming if he appeared on animal welfare charges again.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said inspections in August last year found the animals died on Nicol's 300-cow dairy farm due to suspected untreated parasite infection, malnourishment and severe weather.

MPI said during the first visit on 10 August seven cattle were found dead, which Nicol told the inspector he believed had died from parasites. He was then told to drench his yearlings within nine working days.

A second inspection on 22 August, prompted by complaints about the yearlings' treatment, found many animals had not received parasite treatment and some calves were suffering from chronic undernutrition.

Two yearlings were then euthanised on recommendation from a vet because of their poor condition and another was found dead. Nicol said one other had died when it was caught in a heavy rainstorm.

MPI regional manager for animal welfare Brendon Mikkelsen said most farmers did the right thing when caring for animals - but those who did not would be held to account.

"The vet also noted that he had not come across young stock in such a state of malnourishment during his career, as they were less than half the weight they should have been. These animals would have suffered greatly from the neglect Mr Nicol showed them," Mikkelsen said.

Nicol had previously pleaded guilty to an animal welfare charge which involved failure to give reasonable treatment to a dairy cow with a broken leg.