Owner of 26 cattle fined $7,800 and disqualified from having livestock

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24 June 2022, NZ: A Hastings man has been banned from owning livestock for 5 years and fined $7,800 after failing to provide 26 cattle with sufficient food, resulting in 2 of them dying and 2 being euthanised to prevent further suffering.

Rufus Mohi Watene (54) was sentenced in the Hastings District Court this week following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Animal Welfare Act.

MPI’s regional manager Animal Welfare and National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) compliance, Joanna Tuckwell says the surviving animals were severely underweight.

“All animal owners have a responsibility to their animals, regardless of the number in their care. Most people in charge of animals do the right thing by them. This situation was particularly disappointing because it was entirely preventable if Mr Watene took the right steps.”

In July 2021, MPI animal welfare inspectors observed the animals at Mr Watene’s Te Hauke property. They noticed underweight cattle with spines, hipbones, and ribs visibly prominent. The pasture was poor, and the straw being fed was of low quality and not sufficient to meet daily nutritional needs for these animals.

A search warrant was obtained, and animal welfare inspectors and a veterinarian went onto the property and discovered 2 dead cattle along with a calf and another cow that both had to be euthanised.

“The veterinarian concluded that the cause of death was likely starvation. Although he was not an experienced farmer, our investigation found that Mr Watene knew these animals were in poor condition for at least a month. Instead of seeking help Mr Watene left them to suffer and he quite simply failed these animals,” says Joanna Tuckwell.

The surviving animals were provided proper care and have since been sold. The court also ordered Mr Watene to pay veterinary costs of $2,046.77.

If you become aware of suspected ill-treatment, cruelty, or neglect, contact MPI’s animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33. Alternatively, you can report an animal welfare issue online.

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