A SKIBBEREEN farmer, who called in druids to help reinstall a toppled standing stone on land he is leasing, has been convicted of animal cruelty.
Donal Bohane, of Gortnamuckla Skibbereen, appeared before a sitting of Skibbereen District Court following a farm inspection at Coolnagurrane, Skibbereen where he leases land.
Liam Evans, a technical advisor with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, told Judge Colm Roberts that he called to the farm on Friday November 15th, 2019 and was ‘shocked at the conditions the animals were in.’
Mr Evans produced photos into evidence showing 100 cattle in two sheds, standing in high levels of wet slurry with no access to feed or to a dry, clean place to lie in.
‘The animals looked stunted and malnourished,’ he said.
‘Everything was covered in slurry, the cattle were confined and had no where to go, and the slurry pits were overflowing, the tank was full.’
Donal Bohane, who represented himself, disputed the number of cattle present on the farm on the day of the inspection and said they each had a cubicle to lie in.
However, when Judge Roberts asked if Mr Bohane had photographic evidence showing these cubicles to present to the court, Mr Bohane said that he did not because his agricultural consultant could not get to him to ‘do a report’.
Garda Adrian Holland, who at the request of the Department of Agriculture called to the farm, said that he did observe underweight cattle, standing in between three and four inches of wet slurry.
Garda Holland took a statement from Donal Bohane a number of days later, which was read out in court.
In it Mr Bohane said that he feeds the cattle every night and that the slurry pit on the upper yard was causing problems.
He said that he asked an agricultural contractor to remove the slurry two weeks before the inspection by Mr Evans but that the contractor was very busy.
He said that the cattle were not in good condition and that they had health problems. He stated that he had an ongoing dispute with the Department of Agriculture and a local vet over the condition of his cattle, that he could not sell them which has put him under severe financial strain, and that no vet would deal with him.
Judge Roberts asked if there was a vet present in court to give evidence on behalf of Mr Bohane.
‘I asked two vets to come here today both declined,’ Mr Bohane said.
Judge Roberts asked: ‘Who is in charge of the farm Mr Bohane?’
‘You are responsible, whether or not the farm has a bad design is not the issue, you are responsible and should ensure that any issues are rectified and that the cattle are kept in good condition,’ Judge Roberts said.
‘You don’t seem to understand the problem. You say you asked a contractor to come and empty the slurry tank and he didn’t, if I call a plumber and he doesn’t arrive then I have to call another one. If there is a problem on the farm you deal with it.’
Judge Roberts said that he had no doubt that the conditions on the farm, on the day of the inspection, were as bad as stated in evidence.
He convicted Mr Bohane on a charge of animal cruelty and fined the defendant €3,500.