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New Zealand farmer convicted for animal neglect after 226 sheep euthanised

A farmer in New Zealand has been convicted of animal neglect after more than 200 sheep had to be euthanised due to severe malnourishment.

Bevan Scott Tait, 52, was sentenced to nine months of home detention and 150 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to neglecting 226 sheep.

He was also banned from owning or managing farm animals for four years.

However, the farmer claimed he had been suffering from depression and had not received adequate support, the BBC reported.

Investigators found several deceased sheep on Tait’s farm in Russock Creek, on the South Island, in April 2019.

Other sheep found to be sick and starving had to be put down.

The animals showed signs of starvation and some were flyblown and suffered from fly-borne infections. Some of the sheep had not been sheared for two years.

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The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries’ animal welfare department launched an investigation into the animals’ condition and issued Tait an order to address the situation.

During a follow-up visit, inspectors found the pasture had improved and sheep had been treated for fly-strike, but a further complaint revealed three dead cows and inadequate grass for sheep to graze on.

Overall, 226 sheep had to be euthanised, with the remaining animals sold and rehomed.

“It’s fair to say that this type of offending is rare,” animal welfare manager Gray Harrison of the Ministry for Primary Industries told reporters.

“Most farmers do the right thing by their animals and Mr Tait’s neglect of his animals was one of the worst we’ve seen for some time.”

Tait’s lawyer Tanya McCullum said the Rural Support Trust had contacted Tait months before the neglect was uncovered and determined he required assistance, but did little to assist him.

The lawyer argued the trust should have provided better assistance to the farmer, rather than telling him to fix the situation himself.

However, the judge presiding over the case determined Tait’s offence to be serious given he was an experienced farmer who should have acted to prevent the animals’ suffering.

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