A Hawke's Bay farmer guilty of multiple charges of cruelty to sheep has been fined $7000.
Andrew Ormond, 44, was also ordered to pay $520 in vet fees.
Ormond was sentenced in Hastings District Court yesterday on charges related to the ill-treatment of sheep on his Longdale property northwest of Hastings.
Over two days in May last year SPCA inspectors found 49 sheep entangled in the blackberry, 21 of which were dead and in various states of decomposition. A further 9 sheep were found dead in streams, bogs, and open paddocks elsewhere on the property.
Of the 28 live sheep, many had dead grass beneath them and large amounts of droppings around them, showing that they had been trapped for a considerable time.
As the Inspectors cut the sheep free from the blackberry, they found that four of the live sheep were in such a poor condition they had to be euthanised on the spot to relieve their pain.
These included one sheep with a broken hind leg, another that had been blinded and was too weak to stand, and another that had lost an eye and worn a deep groove in the soil trying to break free from the blackberry.
Another four sheep were found to be malnourished and emaciated. They were given veterinary treatment but their condition deteriorated and they also had to be euthanised.
When interviewed, Ormond admitted that he was aware of the blackberry problem but because his marriage was breaking up he was reluctant to visit the property. When shown photographs of the sheep he said he felt terrible for the stock.
Napier SPCA manager Bruce Wills said "this is not a case of a farmer being caught out by last year's drought or lack of feed, this is someone who simply allowed other areas of his life to take precedence over his obligations to his animals".
"It is one of the worst cases of neglect I have seen in more than 10 years of animal welfare enforcement. The level of suffering I witnessed on that property was severe and prolonged. It will haunt me for some time," Wills said.
- The Dominion Post