ALLOWING five calves to die for want of water was described by a West Cork judge as being ‘close to unforgiveable.’
Judge James McNulty made the comment at Skibbereen District Court on Tuesday after hearing evidence in the case against Michael Crowley of Hawthorn, Drimoleague, who pleaded guilty to seven charges of neglecting his livestock in May 2018.
Barrister Shane O’Callaghan called Michael O’Reilly, a veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture, to give evidence about what he found during the May 2nd and 4th 2018 inspections.
Mr O’Reilly said he found the carcases of five dead calves to which dogs could have had access and that one of them was in a state of decomposition.
He said there was evidence of scour and diarrhoea, which was an indication that they had died from dehydration.
The farmer, who was legally represented by Flor Murphy, solicitor, was also prosecuted in respect of 16 untagged calves that did not have access to water, because the trough was empty and hanging off the wall.
The inspector said some of the accused’s animals were in a reasonable condition and had water, feed and straw bedding, but an additional 24 carcases were found ‘half buried’ in a pit away from the farmyard.
In his defence, Mr Murphy said his client initially had 80 acres and 80 cows but expanded his operation too much when the quotas were removed.
He confirmed that his client had been farming lands at Hawthorn, Caheragh and Kilsonagh in Drimoleague and ended up trying to do the work of two men.
Mr Murphy confirmed that the livestock numbers have dropped from 243 to 118 and that friends and neighbours helped the accused to put things in order.
He said his client was pleading guilty to the seven charges which included an offence of neglect; failing to provide water; and failing to safeguard and protect his livestock.
Mr Murphy said the Department of agriculture is ‘keeping a close eye on this farm’ and that his client is no longer leasing outside farms.
A medical report showed that the accused was ‘extremely distressed’ psychologically about the death of his animals and that he is ‘making a gradual recovery.’
Judge McNulty said the court must express its disapproval on behalf of society and he said he would impose a penalty of €5,000 when the case is called again on September 24th next.