The number of farm animal cruelty cases has risen in England and Wales, latest figures from the RSPCA show.
The animal charity revealed 1,341 people were convicted for animal cruelty and neglect in 2011 – an increase of 23.5% on the previous year.
Most of the cases were related to domestic pets, but last year also saw a rise in the number of convictions for cruelty to farm animals, including equines.
In 2011, there were 11 convictions for cruelty to cattle, compared with just two in 2010; nine for sheep – an increase from six in the previous year – and two for pigs, following no cases in 2010.
In equines, there were 230 convictions in 2011, compared with 175 in 2010.
David Bowles, RSPCA director of communications, said: “The RSPCA was founded more than 180 years ago specifically because of concerns about the welfare of farm animals and it’s still a huge part of our work today.
“There are 900 million farm animals reared in the UK – about 56 times the number of pet cats and dogs – and many more are kept by people on allotments, smallholdings or in chicken coops in their back gardens.
“Although the number of farm animals involved in prosecutions are relatively small, even one animal suffering is one too many and we are disappointed to see they have increased.”
But despite the low number of cases involving farm animals, the RSPCA said the crisis in animal cruelty and starvation in general was stretching the charity to “breaking point”.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “We show zero tolerance to animal abusers. Anyone causing animals pain for profit or pleasure will be tracked down and prosecuted.
“We need the courts and councils, police and people who care to join us in standing up and getting justice for Britain’s abused animals.”
The figures were released ahead of RSPCA Week, from 30 April to 6 May, which raises funds for the charity’s work.