Canterbury Farmer responsible for deaths of 610 calves

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 24, 2023 |

A Canterbury farmer found responsible for the death of 610 calves she was raising has been banned from owning or being in charge of calves and cattle and placed on home detention for seven months.

54 year old Rakaia calf-rearer Lisa-Jane Claire Miller was sentenced in the Ashburton District Court on five charges under the Animal Welfare Act, following a successful prosecution by Ministry for Primary Industries.

Along with home detention, she was disqualified under the Animal Welfare Act from owning or being responsible for calves or cattle for five years.

The court also ordered Miller to pay costs of $3,975.48.

Between August 2020 and October 2020, Miller bought 687 calves to rear at her farm.

A later MPI investigation found the animals started to die within three weeks of arriving at her farm and by the middle of September between 15 and 30 calves were dying daily.

MPI Investigations team leader Mark Sanders said “welfare problems with the calves began early with a scours outbreak and while Miller did initially seek help, including gaining antibiotics from a veterinarian, the problems multiplied and hundreds of calves that she was in charge of eventually died.”

Miller did not take the necessary action to prevent or address the issues, and declined an offer from a vet to look into the cause of the outbreak.

In December, MPI received a complaint from a member of the public and sent inspectors and a vet to visit the farm.

They found more than one hundred dead calves scattered around the farm that had died from starvation, another hundred calves in extremely poor condition because of a lack of food, with four having to be euthanised to end their suffering, along with a lack of good grass for grazing and a lack of water for the animals”

An inspector issued a Notice of Direction requiring all remaining calves to be examined by vet. An animal health management plan was also produced for Miller and a search warrant for the property was obtained and carried out.

“If Miller had not neglected these calves and had them examined by a veterinarian when advised to in those early stages – the situation might have been very different. As an experienced calf-rearer, she knew what her responsibility was to these young animals but failed them,” Mark Sanders said.

MPI strongly encourages any member of the public who is aware of animal ill-treatment or cruelty to report it to the MPI animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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