Farmer fined £15,000 for 14 animal welfare offences

An “indifferent” livestock farmer has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years and ordered to pay £15,000 after being convicted of animal welfare offences for the third time.

Brian Churches, 58, of Yew Tree Farm, Rodney Stoke, Cheddar, was convicted at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 6 March for a range of animal welfare offences at his two farms in Rodney Stoke and Draycott.

Mr Churches pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including causing unnecessary suffering to a severely lame bull and a lame sheep by failing to either treat the animals, call a vet or arrange their humane destruction.

The charges

  1. Failed to ensure that a sick or injured animal, namely a bull, was isolated in suitable accommodation with dry and comfortable bedding on 18 October 2017
  2. Failed to make an application to the secretary of state to register the birth of 36 bovine cattle between 10 November and 4 December 2017
  3. Failed to register the birth of 36 bovine cattle on 19 October 2017
  4. Failed to apply both ear tags to a herd of cattle between 10 November and 4 December 2017
  5. Failed to report the death of five bovine animals between 10 November and 4 December 2017 to the secretary of state within seven days
  6. Failed to store and handle wastes and hazardous substances separately and securely to prevent hazard contamination between 18 October and 27 November 2017
  7. Failed to ensure 45 bovine cattle had access to a lying area which was well maintained with dry bedding or well drained on 9 March 2018
  8. Failed to register the birth of five bovine cattle on 9 March 2018
  9. Failed to apply both ear tags to a herd of cattle within 20 days of birth on 9 March 2018
  10. Failed to seek veterinary care for a lame sheep and caused unnecessary suffering to the animal on 9 March 2018
  11. Failed to seek veterinary care for a lame bull and caused unnecessary suffering to the animal on 18 October 2017
  12. Failed to ensure adequate and secure accommodation without sharp edges for 20 cattle between 18 October and 27 November 2017
  13. Failed to ensure feed was protected against contamination and spoilage on 18 June 2018
  14. Failed to dispose a bovine carcass on 4 July 2018

The prosecution was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards.

Officers from Trading Standards and the Animal and Plant Health Agency carried out several visits to Mr Churches’ farms between October 2017 and July 2018.

They found that the animals were kept standing in deep, wet slurry with no bedding, feed or water.

The district Judge said Mr Churches had been “indifferent” to the welfare of his stock, and had failed to heed comprehensive advice given by both Trading Standards officials and his own vet.

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Mr Churches was convicted of similar offences in 2004 and again in 2005, when he had been disqualified from keeping cattle for three years under the Protection of Animals Act 1911.

The defendant has been sentenced to 300 hours of unpaid work, ordered to pay costs of £15,000 and disqualified from keeping any animals for 10 years.

Stephen Gardiner, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards’ legal process manager, said: “The conditions in which these animals were kept fell well below acceptable welfare standards.

“Mr Churches’ failure to follow the advice of Trading Standards and his own vet left us with no alternative but to take formal action against him in the courts.”

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