Cyngor Gwynedd investigation into unnecessary suffering of livestock
A Gwynedd farmer has been handed a suspended prison sentence, ordered to pay more than £5,000 and disqualified from owning animals for five years after pleading guilty to animal welfare offences and for failure to dispose of sheep remains.
Philip Edmund Smith of Cefn Ynysoedd, Llanfaglan, Caernarfon was sentenced at Caernarfon Magistrates on Monday, 19 June 2023.
Philip Smith subjected animals to unnecessary suffering and failing to take the appropriate and reasonable steps to secure the needs of the flock. This included the need for animals to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
The court heard that of the 150 sheep seen by officials on his farm, approximately 75% were found to be severely lame and unable to bear weight on at least one limb and 32 had to be euthanised due to the severity of their lameness.
During the hearing, an album of photographs showing the extent of the shocking conditions and unnecessary suffering of the animals were shown to the court. The court was told that officials were horrified by the condition in which animals were found and that it was their opinion that the sheep were experiencing unnecessary pain and suffering; and the defendant should have sought veterinary assistance much earlier.
Animal health officers from Cyngor Gwynedd's Trading Standards Service and the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) veterinary team visited the farm several times during July and August 2021 following an anonymous tip-off by a concerned member of the public reporting lame sheep on land at Cefn Ynysoedd.
During the investigation officers from Gwynedd Council’s Trading Standards Service were subjected to threatening and abusive behaviour by Philip Smith.
During the initial inspection a collapsed ram was discovered in one farm buildings which was severely lame with foot-rot, had severe chronic skin lesions and inflammation of the larynx that would have caused a degree of difficulty breathing. It was the veterinary officer’s opinion that the ram was suffering unnecessarily and needed to be euthanised to prevent any further suffering. A post-mortem examination carried out on the ram indicated that the skin lesions were likely to have been present for several months and concluded that there was no evidence of paring of the feet to remove the overgrown horn.
Several other sheep were found to be suffering with irreversible foot lesions caused by conditions that may have been treatable had they been identified and treated sooner. Several of the sheep were also suffering from fly strike and had live maggots in their feet.
Magistrates disqualified Philip Smith from owning, keeping, transporting or dealing in farmed animals for five years and ordered him to complete 20 hours rehabilitation course.
He was also sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months for the six section 4 Animal Welfare Act offences and sentenced to 12 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months for the two section 9 Animal Welfare offences. These sentences are to be served concurrently.
The Magistrates also fined Philip Smith £400 for the six Animal By-Product Regulation offences and ordered him to pay £4,475 in costs and a victim surcharge of £128.
Councillor Dafydd Meurig, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet Member for the Environment said: “Our Trading Standards officers actively work closely with the farming community, through advice and intervention, to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare are achieved. I would stress that the vast majority of farms in Gwynedd provide these expected standards, and most farmers go above and beyond to ensure the welfare of their animals.
“However, where there is non-compliance – as in this particular case – the Council has no choice but to take the necessary enforcement action.
“I would like to thank the officers for their work on what can be sad and distressing circumstances, and to the Magistrates for their professionalism in dealing with this case.
“I would also like to thank members of the public for their vigilance and would encourage anyone who has concerns about the welfare of an animal to report it to us so that the appropriate action can be taken.”
For advice on animal welfare, keeping farmed animals or to report a problem, please call Cyngor Gwynedd Trading Standards: 01766 771000, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org