15 Oct 2013

Ministry pleased with tail-breaking sentence

10:47 am on 15 October 2013

The Ministry for Primary Industries is pleased with the sentence imposed on an Ashburton dairy herd manager for breaking the tails of more than 150 cows.

Kevin Craig Smith, 38, has been sentenced to eight months' home detention and banned indefinitely from owning or working with farm animals.

He was convicted in August after admitting charges of wilfully ill-treating the cows and failing to provide treatment. He also admitted striking the animals with a plastic pipe.

The ministry's Canterbury-Westland district compliance manager, Peter Hyde, says it took action against Smith after being alerted by the farm owner.

"154 cows with broken tails, that's a large number," he says. "It's one of the largest cases we've come across and there's just simply no need for it. It's just very poor stockmanship and it's behaviour that we want stamped out pretty quickly."

Mr Hyde says the ministry thinks the sentence sends a strong message to people who work with animals, particularly in the dairy industry, that that sort of behaviour won't be tolerated - "and if you get caught doing it, then that might be the end of your career in the dairy industry."

In another another tail-breaking case in the North Island last month, a dairy farm worker also received home detention and was banned from working with dairy cattle.

Federated Farmers has also welcomed the latest sentencing, in particular the ban on working with farm animals. Dairy chair Willy Leferink says that's the biggest gain, for farmers and for cows.