Warwickshire Trading Standards has successfully prosecuted a farmer who caused unnecessary suffering to livestock and failed to provide adequate living conditions or suitable feed and water for the animals in his care.
Trading Standards Animal Health Officers and Veterinary Inspectors from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) visited the farm at Hunningham, Leamington Spa, operated by Ewan David Wells (64), between 1 March 2019 and 1 March 2022.
In parts of the farm Officers found that muck had accumulated up to three feet in depth, making it difficult for animals – including young calves – to move. In some places muck had overflowed into water troughs, leading to constant contamination of the water within.
Old, rotten hay and silage had been left at the bottom of a feed ring from which animals were seen eating and in some areas animal feed was contaminated with faeces. A shed containing around 200 ewes and some newborn lambs had insufficient water buckets or other water provisions.
Cattle buildings were in poor repair and cattle had access to areas of the farm with barbed wire on the floor and piles of scrap metal.
Wells had pleaded guilty to three Animal Health offences in December 2022 and appeared at Coventry Magistrates Court on 29 June 2023 for sentencing. He was given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and banned from keeping animals.
Wells had previously been prosecuted in 2020 for causing unnecessary suffering to a cow. When problems were found during a subsequent inspection, the tenant farmer was given an opportunity to put things right but failed to do so.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “Warwickshire has a large farming community and our Trading Standards Animal Health Team work with them to ensure that livestock are healthy and cared for and the risk of disease is reduced as much as possible.
“When problems are found, the advice of Animal Health Officers and vets is usually heeded and issues are rectified quickly, but unfortunately in this case, despite Mr Wells having received considerable guidance, he failed to follow it, leaving us with little option but to take court action.”
In mitigation, Mr Stephen Cadwaladr, representing Mr Wells stated that his client had operated a small farm for all of his working life and was not a wealthy man. Mr Wells farmed alone, days on the farm were long and the work arduous and Mr Wells had reluctantly accepted that he could no longer perform physical tasks as well as he once could. Further, he maintained that Mr Wells’ failure to meet best practice was for these and associated reasons as opposed to intention or idleness.
In addition to the suspended sentence and ban from keeping animals, Wells was ordered to pay a contribution of £6,000 towards prosecution costs and a £122 victim surcharge.