Cattle starvation trial resumes

A man accused of causing the deaths of 161 calves and cows in 2009 is back in the Timaru District Court today.

The trial of Kurow farmer Anthony James Lauren, 42, who faces six charges of ill-treatment of the animals continues in front of Judge Joanna Maze after being adjourned on March 21 due to other court fixtures.

The charges date back to July 23, 2009 when a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) inspector and Oamaru vet found 148 dead cows and calves at Mt Belle farm in Kurow.

Later 13 cattle had to be euthanased. The remaining 185 cattle were also found to be in varied states of distress.

This morning's court centres around the legality of the appointment of the MAF inspector.

Lauren was leasing the farm on Guards Rd, Kurow, and claims he was paying a contractor to feed the animals.

The contractor, Simon Johnston, who took the stand on March 21 recalled finding the dead and dying animals.

He said he was contracted by Lauren for two hours a day from June 10, 2009 to feed out to 320 calves on lower farm land adjacent to where the offences are alleged to have taken place. He said he didn't know Lauren had calves on the hill block.

He was asked on June 22 to go and feed the calves and discovered seven calves and two cows down with very low weight.

He went into the valley and saw several more dead calves, with the ribs of one calf visible and stuck in mud up to its underbelly.

Johnston contacted Lauren and the next day a vet was called who was accompanied by a MAF inspector.

The Timaru Herald