Farmer in court for neglecting animals

One of the pigs on the farm in Mixenden

One of the pigs on the farm in Mixenden

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A farmer who left his pigs without water or bedding has been given a community order by Calderdale magistrates.

John Hutchinson, 44, who is also a self-employed builder, failed to provide a supply of continuous drinking water for 22 pigs on his farm at Mixenden Lodge Cottage, Halifax, as well as straw and bedding.

He also failed to notify the authorities of the deaths of 32 cattle between 2009 and 2012, which means they have no way of knowing whether the carcasses entered the food chain.

Dead animals on Mr Hutchinson’s farm were collected by Mitchell By Products Ltd, Thornton, Bradford, but no records could be found of them collecting the carcusses, the court heard.

Their relationship with Mr Hutchinson was described in court as very easy going and on a slightly lax basis in relation to book-keeping.

Mr Hutchinson also failed to tell the authorities that he had moved a calf onto his farm from another holding, which should have been recorded.

The court heard that the animal passports of 32 cattle which died on the farm which should have been given to the authorities were found in a drawer, which was described as “a very long standing error”.

The farm, which is home to around 200 cattle, is now considered high risk and will be inspected again in July by Calderdale Council envrionmental health officials for carcass disposal records, animal identification and welfare.

Defence solicitor Malcolm Nowell said: “These offences are not likely to be repeated. He takes the care of his animals very seriously indeed and continues to do so. He has worked very hard to try and put these errors right.”

Chair of the magistrates Anthea Atkinson said: “There was a comprehensive failure to keep a record of animals.

“The main purpose of sentence is to punish you and protect the public.

“We believe this passes the custody threshold but the fact that you have pleaded guilty and your personal circumstances mean we have decided to sentence you to a 12 month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work. We are making this order as a direct alternative to going to prison.

Hutchinson, who admitted nine charges of animal neglect and failure to keep records, was also ordered to pay £520 costs.

Calderdale Council’s Head of Housing, Environment and Renewal, Mark Thompson, speaking after the hearing, said: “This case highlights how seriously the council takes its responsibility for animal welfare and disease control.

“Our Animal Health and Welfare Officer works hard with local farmers to make sure this kind of neglect is a rare occurrence in Calderdale.

“We will not hesitate to pursue people who fail to comply with the rules.”