Eight cows, three calves and two sheep found dead on North Staffordshire farm

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Farmer Peter Gorse has been hit with a 10-year animal ban after livestock became stuck in mud and died on his land.

The 34-year-old failed to seek help after suffering a bereavement which saw his farm suffer.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard members of the public spotted dead cows in the fields and Staffordshire County Council’s animals health officers became involved.

They found:

  • Animals left in the field which had become stuck in mud and died;
  • A calf which had been eaten by animals;
  • Cattle which had been left with no access to food or shelter;
  • The defendant had failed to dispose of dead carcasses properly.

The court heard the defendant ran Shawwood Farm, in Butterhill Lane, Sandon. The first complaint was lodged in April, 2019.

Latest cases from the courts in North Staffordshire

Latest cases from the courts in North Staffordshire

Lucy Daniels, prosecuting for the council, said: “Two cattle and a calf had been left in a field and died. He failed to register the birth of calves and failed to register the deaths of cattle within seven days.”

The defendant had been given advice in June 2019 following the complaint. A further complaint was received in November about a dead carcass near a fence. The defendant did not register the death until January 2.

Council investigators visited the farm on December 12.

Miss Daniels added: “They found a dead bovine in a field and a calf had been eaten by other animals. The cattle would not have been able to get into the shelter. A bovine had no access to food, except grass and that was very sparse at the time.”

She added vets stated the cows ‘would have undergone considerable suffering as a result of being stuck in the mud’.

On May 27 the farm’s new owners found the carcasses of eight adult bovines, three calves and two sheep in a pit.

Miss Daniels added: “The prosecution say the care was substandard.”

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Gorse, of Jasmine Road, Great Bridgeford, pleaded guilty to six offences of failing to comply with an animal by-product requirement; two charges of failing to keep a register of births, deaths and movements of animals; and four offences of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

The court heard the defendant is no longer farming. Frances Bennett, mitigating, conceded the offences crossed the custody threshold. She said the defendant did not dig a pit to put the dead carcasses in but ‘disposed of them in a pit which was already there’.

District Judge Kevin Grego said the neglect was ‘prolonged’ and the care ‘incompetent’.

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He said: “Animal welfare legislation is there for a purpose. It is there to ensure good husbandry of animals and the welfare of animals.

“The regulations are there to ensure that disease which can enter the food chain can be located and tracked. We are in the middle of a pandemic. The reasons are clear and obvious why we need to know and track where animals have come from and to track disease of animals as well. If that is not done then great social difficulties can arise.

“It was particularly poor care of farmed animals over a period of time where your ability to farm was beyond your capabilities. You should have sought help and did not do so.

“The case arose in circumstances where you were dealing with tragedy and bereavement in your own life. It is clear that really caused a long shadow over everything else occurring at that point.

“There was prolonged neglect and poor management of those animals and, as a consequence of that, those animals suffered and died.”

Gorse has been handed a 12 month community order with 100 hours unpaid work and a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement. He must pay £1,000 costs and a £90 surcharge.

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