8:50am Friday 9th March 2012
Husband and wife farmers Elisabeth Jean and William Richard Lightfoot have been banned from keeping farm animals for ten years after the way they treated cattle, ducks and a pig on their nine-acre smallholding was said to be “appalling and amazing” at a Truro court.
The case followed repeated cautions given to the pair at their farm at Orchard Place, Higher Tolcarne, St Day, Redruth, dating back to 2002, following visits by animal welfare officers and a vet whose advice was ignored.
Mrs Lightfoot, 66, pleaded guilty at Truro Magistrates’ Court to failing to provide a lame piglet with veterinary treatment and failing to provide a suitable environment for six ducks.
Mr Lightfoot, 55, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a suitable wholesome diet for cattle, failing to remove potentially injurious objects from the fields in which they were kept and allowing an immature heifer to be kept with bulls risking injury or suffering if it became pregnant.
The couple were each given a conditional discharge for two years and told to pay costs of £1,641.63 between them.
The ten year ban disqualifies them from keeping, owning or being party to any arrangement through which they have control of farm animals.
After the magistrates watched video evidence to back the Cornwall Council-brought case, chairman Mrs Margaret Scott told the defendants: “We were alarmed and amazed to see what was presented to us this morning. There is no doubt at all that these cattle and animals suffered unnecessarily from serious contraventions and this has been going on for years and years. You made a few repairs, put a few things right, but essentially you ignored advice and carried on and failed in your duties.”
Prosecutor Kevin Hill said there had been official cautions before for the couple who would make improvements but then fail in their welfare again.
In May last year an animal health visitor and a vet found cattle stunted and thin, with no feeding apparently having taken place. There was scrap machinery, metal and collapsed fencing about which could cause the animals injury. In one field a heifer was with bulls which could have caused serious injury should she become pregnant. In the pig pens there was a lame piglet with a closed right eye which had not received proper treatment and was suffering unnecessarily. Six Aylesbury ducks that should have been white were covered in mud, living in filthy conditions with dirty wet bedding, dirty water and no food.
Mr Hill said: “This is a very serious contravention of the Animal Welfare Act and not acceptable in this day and age for animals to be kept in such appalling conditions.”
He said there was a long history of neglect, and advice which was given had been ignored.
Mrs Lightfoot told the magistrates she and her husband were very sorry to be in court. During the period in question her husband’s health was poor and they both had family problems which distracted them from farming. Since May they had reduced the cattle and pig, the ducks had gone and they had sold some of the machinery and were continuing to do so. They had improved fencing and tied up barbed wire.
“We realize the mistakes we have made and are taking steps to improve the situation.”
Mr Lightfooy stressed that the cattle they kept were Gloucesters which were a small breed. He said he had farmed at Orchard Place since 1999.
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