Absentee farmer fined $5,000 for animal cruelty to herd

Absentee farmer, Bruce Cook, was fined $5,000 in the Swan Hill Magistrates Court recently for animal cruelty to his herd.

The farmer pleaded guilty to two charges, one for cruelty and one aggravated cruelty offence. Without conviction he was fined $5,000 and costs awarded in the amount of $219.95 to the department.

The herd were agisted on a property at Lake Charm, near Swan Hill, approximately 410 kilometres from his residential address in Crossover.

At the time of the incident, Mr Cook was on a trip interstate and did not supervise the cattle himself or arrange for anyone to supervise the cattle in his absence. During the six-day period of extreme heat the cattle’s water source pump failed, resulting in the death of 32 cattle.

Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare Compliance Manager Daniel Bode said the farmer failed to comply with notices under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

Mr Bode said apart from the obvious pain and suffering of the animals, animal welfare breaches can jeopardise Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food, which can affect all producers.

“This is a reminder to all livestock producers that animal cruelty will not be tolerated by the Victorian Government or the community.”

“Also, those farmers who work as absentee owners are reminded that adequate supervision is a requirement particularly during risk times such as summer to ensure animals have proper and sufficient feed, water and shelter.”

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