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Helston farmer fined for causing unnecessary suffering to his cattle

By bevcoumbe  |  Posted: August 07, 2013

  • Helston farmer, William John Harris, who was banned from keeping and owning animals in January for causing unncessary suffering, and who saw six new charges against him for failing to care for his animals dismissed at Truro Magistrates Court.

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A Helston farmer found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to his cattle has been fined £750 by Truro magistrates and ordered to pay £1,600 costs.

Magistrates told Mark Harris, 37, of Treworlis Barton Farm at Breage, that it would have been “unnecessarily punitive” to ban him from keeping animals after his father was disqualified from owning animals in January.

Mark Harris had denied failing to provide enough drinking water for his rare breed of dairy shorthorns and keeping them tied to neck chains that were too short on February 7 this year.

He also denied failing to repair a jagged piece of steel on a door to a shed that posed a risk to young cows.

Following a trial on Monday and Tuesday magistrates found him not guilty of two further charges of failing to provide dry bedding and a suitable diet for his herd.

Sentencing Harris magistrates told him that as a herdsman with 20 years experience he must be aware of his duty of care to carry out good practice when handling his cattle.

The farmer had been in the dock with his elderly father, William Harris, 71, who saw all charges of failing to ensure his cattle’s welfare, causing them unnecessary suffering and breaching a 12 month ban on owning and keeping animals, dismissed on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence.

As a result of the ban Mr Harris had transferred the management of the farm and 96 cattle to his son, Mark.

His son’s prosecution follows a visit to the farm by Cornwall Council’s animal welfare inspector, Jonathan McCulloch, on February 7 this year along with Lorna Stevenson, a vet with the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

Mrs Stevenson told the court that she found 19 cattle in a shed, 15 tied by the neck on short chains preventing them from standing in a natural position and grooming.

She said: “I was very concerned. I don’t know of any farmers in Cornwall that permanently tie animals in this way...there was no water and they drank very thirstily when I gave them some.”

She said cattle can drink between 25 and 35 litres of water per day.

“This is not the way any reasonable stockman would keep his cattle. A humane person would recognise thirst especially those that have had repeated advice from the authorities,” she added.

The court heard that in recent years inspectors have visited the farm around 20 times, raising concerns about the care of its livestock.

Giving evidence Harris told the court that he had found the inspections very “stressful” and Cornwall Council’s letters “threatening.”

Defending Harris, Paul Gallagher said the farmer no longer used neck chains and that repairs had been made to the buildings. He said Harris had plans to develop the farm now that he was in charge.

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