A Canterbury dairy farmer and a farm company have pleaded guilty to animal welfare charges which include recklessly ill-treating cows.
The Ministry for Primary Industries prosecuted Leeston dairy farmer Clyde McIntosh and Riverbrae Dairy Farm Ltd after an investigation last year.
Animal welfare inspectors called to a Leeston farm and another block of land found severely lame dairy cows.
MPI district compliance manager Peter Hyde said the pain in the hooves of some of the cows was so severe they would not stand or walk to water troughs.
A vet found they were suffering from laminitis, with secondary infections.
Sixteen of the cows had to be put down and more than 120 others needed treatment.
Mr Hyde said the farmer had been walking the cows from the grazing paddocks to the milking shed twice a day, a distance of up to 12 kilometres.
The farmer said that and wet conditions probably caused the lameness. He fully co-operated with the investigation and in getting the cows treated.
The farmer and the company will be sentenced on 11 June.