Two people from the Llanllechid area sentenced and banned from keeping animals
Two people from Gwynedd who caused a flock of sheep to be the subject of unnecessary suffering by failing to properly care for them on their farm near Llanllechid, Bethesda, have been prosecuted and banned from owning, keeping, dealing or transporting any farm animal.
Philip Edward Wyn Davies and Lowri Mererid Davies previously of Bronydd Isaf Farm, Llanllechid, pleaded guilty at Caernarfon magistrates' court on 21 October 2020 to six offenses under animal health and welfare legislation following an investigation by Gwynedd Council's Trading Standards team.
Offences were taken under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for causing animals to be the subject of unnecessary suffering and for failing to take 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. Other offences related to failure to dispose of sheep remains, failure to comply with notice to dispose of sheep remains and failure to record the death of a cow. In addition to the six offences, a further 102 offences were taken into consideration by the court.
As well as a ban on keeping animals, Philip Davies was sentenced to 24 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, a community order to complete 200 hours of unpaid work as well as a fine to pay fines and costs of £215. Lowri Davies was ordered to pay fines and costs of £530.
The investigation came to light as a result of a complaint by a member of the public concerning a lame sheep on land at Bronydd Isaf. Animal health officers from Gwynedd Council's Trading Standards team and the APHA veterinary team had to visit the farm several times between October 2018 and February 2019. A large percentage of the live sheep seen were emaciated. Long-term malnutrition was evident and the sheep suffered from severe scab, pneumonia, parasites, worms and severe foot rot. They discovered the carcasses of about 300 sheep during the visits.
The condition of the sheep meant that on several occasions many of them had to be put down to prevent any further suffering. In the end, Council officials had to make arrangements to put down close to 250 sheep.
Councillor Gareth Griffith, Gwynedd Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "All livestock keepers have a clear responsibility to ensure that the conditions in which they keep animals and the care they receive are adequate.
“The vast majority of people who keep agricultural animals take their responsibility seriously and look after their animals. However, where there is evidence of unnecessary suffering, our officers have a responsibility to investigate and take formal enforcement steps if necessary.”
A good stockman checks their animals often, takes remedial action if anything is wrong, seeks professional help if their stock is sick or dying and promptly treats their animals. They dispose of carcasses as soon as possible after death.
In the opinion of the expert witness in this case, a number of the carcasses had been present on the farm for weeks if not months and the defendants should have sought veterinary assistance much earlier. The farm’s stockman level in this case was woefully inadequate. The stockman appeared unable to properly provide for the health and welfare of the number of sheep in their care. They failed to promptly attend to animals when they were lame, or showing signs of disease, making them subject to unnecessary suffering. Before death the sheep would have been subject to unnecessary pain, distress and suffering.
In mitigation the defence explained to the court that the business had been suffering from financial stress and that Philip Davies had made business decisions that in retrospect were unfit business decisions.
For advice relating to health and welfare or on keeping farmed animals or to report an animal welfare problem Gwynedd residents can call the Trading Standards animal health line on 01766 771000, or email email@example.com
If any farmers are struggling or should anyone have any worries about other members of the rural community, such as neighbours or relatives, we would encourage them to make to contact with one of the following organisations:
• Tir Dewi https://www.tirdewi.co.uk/en/volunteers/ 0800 121 4722
• Farming Community Network https://fcn.org.uk/ 03000 111 999
• Farming Connect https://businesswales.gov.wales/farmingconnect/ 08456 000 813
• MIND Cymru https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/mind-cymru 0300 123 3393