A husband and wife who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty offences have been given suspended jail sentences following a prosecution by Staffordshire Council Trading Standards.
Farmers Martin Lownds (62) and Jacqueline Lownds (62), of Churnetside Garage, Abbey Green Road, Leek, pleaded guilty to eight offences, including a failure to provide adequate care for animals and failing to remove dead animals from their farm.
When animal health officers from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team visited the Lownds’ farm in early 2022, they found sheep living in extremely poor conditions.
Despite formal improvement notices and continued advice to support the couple with compliance, by April 2022 the situation was so bad that officers took the suffering livestock into their possession.
A significant number of dead animals were found at the site, including multiple dead lambs that had not received appropriate care following their birth. Dead animals were also found in pens with live animals. The shed where the sheep were housed was not suitable and little food, water or dry lying materials had been provided for the animals.
The couple admitted that they failed to take appropriate action or seek veterinary advice to prevent further unnecessary suffering. They were both sentenced at Telford Magistrates court on 14 November to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years. They were also ordered to pay a total of £12,000 in costs.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council, said: “This was a very distressing case involving some of the most vulnerable animals in farming.
“Mr and Mrs Lownds failed to provide basic husbandry needs, at a time when extra attention should have been provided. When ewes are lambing, they need extra attention to ensure the welfare of the mother and offspring is not compromised.
“Our animal health team work hard to make sure that livestock is looked after properly and that the controls put in place to ensure animal welfare needs are met by those who provide their care. Thankfully, the vast majority of Staffordshire farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals and follow the rules. However, on some occasions, we do see cases where these expected high standards are not met.
“Today’s sentence sends out a clear message that our trading standards animal health team will take action against those who break the law in such a manner.”