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Farmer found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering

Suffering: An ewe with chronic sheep scab
Suffering: An ewe with chronic sheep scab

LAST MONDAY (Sep 13), after a trial at Aberystwyth Justice Centre, Mr Lewis Jones of Ynys Hir Farm, Machynlleth was found guilty of two charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of causing unnecessary suffering to sheep in his care, following an investigation by officers from Ceredigion County Council.

An Animal Health officer from Ceredigion County Council visited land at Tanycastell, Rhydyfelin, Aberystwyth, on 24 December 2015, following receipt of a complaint from a member of the public. The officer found that the flock was suffering from sheep scab, with one sheep suffering so badly that when later examined by an expert who provided evidence at the trial, it was described as being “the worst case of sheep scab he had ever seen”.

The animal had lost most of its fleece and had little protection to the weather conditions during some of the coldest and wettest times of the year.

Also during the inspection, the Animal Health officer found a ram lamb on its own and separated from the flock, walking around in circles in the field. On inspection it was found that the lamb’s horns had been allowed to grow into and against the eyes of the animal, meaning it was blinded and caused suffering.

The court was satisfied that these horns had been causing the animal suffering and expert testimony confirmed that this would have been occurring for a period of weeks. It is normal and reasonable practice for the horns of animals to be trimmed where there is a risk that they may grow inwards towards the head.

Ram lamb: Caused unnecessary suffering due to overgrown horns affecting both eyes
Ram lamb: Caused unnecessary suffering due to overgrown horns affecting both eyes

In passing sentence, District Judge John Parsons told Mr. Lewis Jones:​ “The inspections of your flock have simply been inadequate. We know that the Council Inspector was easily able to find and identify the suffering of the ewe. And he was able to identify the ram as suffering from its behaviour.”

Mr. Lewis Jones, who is 76 and has been farming all his life, was fined £200 per offence and ordered to pay £2,564 of prosecution costs along with a £30 victim surcharge.

Commenting on the case, Head of Lifestyle Services at Ceredigion County Council​,​ Mr Huw Williams,​ said: “Our Animal Health Officers work with the local farmers and the agricultural community in general to ensure that good animal welfare standards are maintained in the county. The vast majority of farmers work hard to ensure that the highest possible welfare standards for their livestock.

“Unfortunately, there are instances where the husbandry and welfare standards fall far short of what is acceptable and this leaves the authority with little option other than to institute formal proceedings. The decision of the court and the comments of the judge confirmed that this was such an occasion.”

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Jon Coles

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