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Farmer guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to animals

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A farmer from Stonehouse has pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to a ram and failing in his duty of care to five ewes.

Nick Rowe, aged 63, of Hill Farm Cottage, Frocester Hill, Frocester, Stonehouse, appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on Monday, January 8th for sentencing after he admitted six charges brought by Gloucestershire County Council’s trading standards service.

He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a ram and failing in his duty of care to five ewes, as well as failing to dispose of the carcasses of at least five sheep. He also admitted failing to identify three ewes within the required time limit and failing to keep records of veterinary medicines that he used on his sheep in accordance with legislation.

Rowe was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for a year and disqualified from owning and keeping farm animals for a period of 10 years. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service and to pay the full prosecution costs of £1,958, as well as a victim surcharge of £128.

Following a complaint in May 2022 from a member of the public concerned about the condition of a flock of sheep in a field in Castle Lane, Moreton Valence, a trading standards officer attended, along with a vet from the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA).

During their inspection they found a ram that was so badly lame on all four feet that it could barely walk. It had maggots in one of its hooves and raw tissue on another hoof and was destroyed by the farmer to prevent any further suffering. A number of sheep carcasses were found in a field that had clearly been there for some time.

They went back the following day and carried out a full inspection of the flock. A number of the sheep were found to have severely overgrown feet as well as other foot problems. The court was told that Rowe had received advice and warnings from trading standards before the prosecution but the advice was not heeded.

Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member for trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “This action taken by trading standards was not taken lightly but it was decided that the case was so serious that a prosecution was appropriate. Our officers will continue to monitor animal welfare issues and ensure that procedures to help prevent the spread of animal disease are adhered to.”

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