Manawatu farmer fined $35,000 for 'reckless ill-treatment' of sheep

MPI said the poor treatment of animals "will not be tolerated".
MPI said the poor treatment of animals "will not be tolerated". Photo credit: Getty

A Manawatu sheep and goat farmer has been fined $35,000 for "reckless ill-treatment" of sheep.

Paul Henson, 53, was sentenced on Thursday in the Palmerston North District.

Henson, who had also been convicted in 2015 for a similar offence, farmed two properties - his own farm near Rongotea in the Manawatu and a 300-hectare lease property Peep O Day, where he farmed around 2300 sheep, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said.

His conviction came after MPI visited his properties in 2018 when a complaint was made to the animal welfare hotline.

"At one of the properties, the animal welfare inspector found there were 1200 unweaned, woolly and undagged lambs, spread over the farm," Gray Harrison, MPI national manager of animal welfare and Nait compliance, said on Friday.

"These lambs and about 30 unshorn ewes had not been treated to prevent flystrike. There were also sheep (44 lambs and 8 ewes) that had active flystrike that were not receiving treatment. 

"Many of the sheep had isolated themselves, sought shade and markedly reduced their feeding. These behaviours show they were in considerable pain and distress. Two lambs with severe infections had to be euthanised."

Harrison said more than 50 other sheep were found to be affected with flystrike to varying degrees "and sheep carcasses lying around the property indicated flystrike was a potential cause of death".

"Sheep are prone to flystrike in the summer and autumn months. Severe infection causes the sheep significant pain and they become depressed and isolate themselves. Untreated sheep are likely to die a slow, painful death."

Harrison said this sort of poor treatment of animals "will not be tolerated".

“People in charge of animals have a duty of care which requires them to attend properly to the welfare of those animals. This was an avoidable situation where animals suffered unnecessarily as a result of the farmer failing to ensure his animals' health needs were met. Paul Henson is a repeat offender and should have learnt from his previous experience."