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Invercargill farmer receives home detention after 226 starved sheep euthanised

An Invercargill farmer has been sentenced to home detention after 226 starved sheep and three lambs had to be euthanised.

Source: istock.com

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says Bevan Scott Tait, 52, received his sentence by audio visual link at the Invercargill District Court today, having earlier pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Animal Welfare Act.

"Tait has been sentenced to nine months’ home detention and banned from owning or managing farm animals for four years for serious animal welfare offending," MPI said.

The sentence comes after 226 of the farmer's sheep and three lambs had to be euthanised because they were emaciated and suffered from flystrike.

A complaint in 2019 led MPI Animal Welfare to launch an investigation at his Tussock Creek, Southland farm.

MPI National Manager of Animal Welfare and NAIT Compliance, Gray Harrison commented on the case and what led up to the sentencing in detail.

“Our inspectors found animals in some distress and directed Tait to take corrective action, including euthanising eight sheep. We followed up and found Tait had made some improvements and treated affected sheep for fly-strike,” Harrison said.

“However, we received another complaint later that month and executed a search warrant where our inspectors found three dead cows. There was also not enough pasture available to his sheep and no evidence of supplementary feed being provided to them.

“We sent a farm consultant to assess stocking rate, stock condition, available feed, and nutritional value of feed on farm. As a result, we directed Tait to make a number of improvements to ensure his animals were properly fed and protected from disease.

“At an unannounced follow-up visit, we found Tait did not follow our directions, and action needed to be taken. It was clear Mr Tait was not doing what was needed to look after his animals so we obtained a court order which directed him to de-stock within three days.

“At the end of that time we visited again, but he had failed to de-stock. We had a vet assess each animal individually, and as a result 226 sheep and three lambs had to be euthanised.

“No one likes to see animals put down, but it was a necessary action in this situation to alleviate the suffering they were enduring. MPI sold and re-homed the rest of his animals - 35 cattle and 387 sheep and about 100 lambs."

Tait has also been ordered to do 150 hours of community service.