Southland farm and contractor convicted after more than 100 cows suffer tail breaks

A Invercargill dairy farm operation and a contract milker have been convicted and fined after more than 100 cows suffered broken tails.

Green Grass Farms Limited and Wilem Barend Wouters were sentenced when they appeared in the Invercargill District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to one charge each under the Animal Welfare Act.

The charges were laid after the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) animal welfare inspectors and an independent veterinarian inspected the dairy herd owned by Green Grass Farms Limited in February and found 101 cows with broken tails.

MPI manager of animal welfare compliance Gray Harrison said the cows' injuries were consistent with excessive force being applied during handling.  

"The injuries were most likely the result of twisting the tail with considerable force to cause ligament rupture and dislocation, causing the cows pain or distress," he said. 

"Initially, the pain would be acute lasting at least seven days and, while the acute pain would diminish, the cows would always be left with long-term pain, discomfort and reduction of function," said Harrison.

He said the Animal Welfare Act imposes a duty of care on owners and people in charge of animals to meet their animals' physical, health and behavioural needs, and to provide treatment that alleviates pain and distress suffered by any ill or injured animals.

"MPI is concerned that this was an avoidable situation where animals suffered unnecessarily.

"We will always take appropriate action to penalise people who treat animals this way."

The company was fined $4500 plus court costs of $130, solicitor's fees of $500 and vet fees totalling $624.

Wouters was fined $5000 plus court costs of $130, solicitor's fees of $500 and vet fees totalling $624.