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10 year ban for livestock farmer who caused unnecessary suffering


An investigation by Gloucestershire trading standards has led to a farmer from Newent being prosecuted for 11 animal welfare charges.


David James Alex Huggins (26), of Clifford’s Mesne, Newent, Gloucestershire, appeared before Cheltenham magistrates on 13th March and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and 200 hours unpaid work. He was required to pay £2000 costs, a victim surcharge of £115 and was banned for 10 years from keeping farm livestock.

Officers from trading standards’ Animal Health service responded to a complaint in August last year about sheep carcasses at Grubs Patch Orchard, Clifford’s Mesne.

At least eight carcasses were found, all in varying degrees of decomposition, along with 90 live sheep that looked in poor condition. The grazing pasture was bare and some were seen feeding on thistles and bracken as there was no supplementary feed available. The only source of drinking water was found to be contaminated by a decomposing sheep carcass.

The animals were taken into possession by trading standards and removed from the site to receive the care and attention they needed.

Three sheep were in such a poor, weak condition they had to be put down to prevent further unnecessary suffering. 

A post-mortem examination showed that all the sheep had chronic malnutrition and severe parasitic gastroenteritis. One lamb also had fly-strike of the foot, caused by wounds becoming infested with maggots.

The court was told that a competent farmer would have recognised that the sheep were in poor condition and required feeding, and that the number of dead animals on site indicated a problem that required the attention of a vet.

Huggins pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges relating to the keeping and welfare of farmed animals. Three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to three sheep, failing in his duty of care to ensure the welfare of 90 sheep located at a field known as Grubs Patch Orchard, failing to dispose of at least eight sheep carcasses, failing to keep these carcasses covered to prevent animals having access to them, failing to report sheep movements to the animal movement licensing service and failing to report a cattle death within 7 days.

Andy Hermiston, head of trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council said: “I hope this case serves as a warning to others. When advice is not heeded and animals are found to be neglected and suffering, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”