Cows found living with rotting carcasses in Tyrone, court told
A judge has expressed “deep concern” about the state of a farm in County Tyrone where carcasses were found lying amongst livestock.
William Ronald Armstrong (60), of Gorey Road, Cabragh, admitted 16 offences during March and April 2018, involving eight counts of animal welfare breaches, three of failing to ensure animal needs, two each of failing to keep and produce medical veterinary records and a single count of failing to hold a carcass.
Dungannon Magistrates Court heard that inspectors attended following an anonymous report about animal welfare on Armstrong’s farm.
They found calves housed in filthy pens without clean water and three dead calves lay amongst dirty, wet livestock.
Emaciated cows stood in overflowing slurry, with carcases amongst this, clearly dead for some time, and being trampled underfoot, the court heard.
The carcasses of a cow and calf which died during birth were found, which Armstrong said had been euthanised four days beforehand.
Department of Agriculture staff issued notices for the disposal of all carcasses, and for clean water to be provided and dry areas for cattle to lie. When inspectors returned the carcasses had been removed but the calf houses remained filthy. Eight cows were emaciated and two others were lame, with one unable to bear weight on a rear leg.
Armstrong was asked for his animal medical records, which he said he didn’t have but would provide on the next inspection.
The final visit found some issues resolved but concerns remained. Animals were still lying in dirty pens and sheds containing 19 calves remained uncleaned.
Deputy District Judge Brian Archer asked about the current state of the farm. An official said that at the last inspection, three weeks ago, “the calf accommodation was still as it was”.
A defence lawyer said his client had farmed all his life.
“The summer of 2017 was one of the worst for farmers who could not get their slurry tanks emptied,” he said.
“This led to a continuing battle to keep the houses in order. My client suffers ill health and had no help.
“It’s a miracle he was able to get out at all.
“He is not making any money out of farming.”
But Judge Archer said: “I am deeply concerned by what I’ve been told. Animals lay dead over a couple of weeks. The calving pens are still filthy a year on.”
He added: “Given he farmed all his life, he should have seen the writing on the wall.”
Judge Archer decided to adjourn to allow a further inspection, and Armstrong will return for sentencing in May.