DEAD calves were found at a farm in Blarney where there were other cattle without access to food or water and today a farmer was given a suspended six-month jail term for animal cruelty.
The charges dated back three years and there was evidence that improvements had since been made under ongoing inspections from Department of Agriculture vets.
Michael Holland, aged 52, of Courtbrack, Blarney, pleaded guilty to 12 counts arising out of the investigation.
Judge Con O’Leary said, after reading a lengthy psychiatric report on the accused man: “What I think is that he should not be farming at all. I am quite pessimistic about the future.”
However, the judge said he would finalise the case and impose a six-month sentence suspended on condition that the accused would keep the peace and treat animals properly for the next two years.
He imposed €50 fines on each of 11 other related offences.
Department of Agriculture vet, James Hegarty, said Holland had reduced his herd number from 100 to 40 and sold half of his 140-acre farm and was now in a better position to buy fodder.
“I would contend that the cattle that are there now are probably as much as he can manage,” Mr Hegarty said.
Responding to Judge O’Leary’s expression of pessimism, Mr Hegarty said: “He is under supervision. Should it get to a stage where things are starting to slide we can put a stop to it.”
David O’Meara, solicitor, said Holland had been diagnosed with a personality adjustment disorder which caused him a lot of difficulty in his farming and more generally. Despite selling 70 of his 140 acres to clear debts he still has a list of further debts, the solicitor said.
“As well as being co-operative from the outset he has been through a very very difficult time personally. To his credit he is battling and coming out of it. He has been through just about every type of pressure,” Mr O’Meara said.
Inspector Ronan Kennelly outlined the background to the case.
He said that veterinary inspector Mary Cullinane contacted gardaí to attend with her at the farm of Michael Holland as she had a concern of serious animal neglect.
“Gardaí attended the scene with Mary Cullinane and Michael O’Sullivan, technical agriculture officer.
“In the farmyard adjacent to Michael Holland’s house, gardaí were shown 13 dead calves in various locations without any identification tags.
“There was a cow in a cattle shed unable to stand with no water or food. There was a carcass of a very decayed calf in the calf shed covered in straw.
“There were a number of other calves in this shed with no access to water or food and standing in appalling conditions. Nine heifers were in the shed with no water and eating poor silage that was nearby. There was a dead adult cow there also.”
Charges were for failing to take all necessary steps to ensure the welfare of an animal in your possession, in your control, and to ensure that the animal was not caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury, contrary to Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and one was for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.