A commercial farming company and a 36 year-old livestock manager were yesterday fined a total of $225,000 for animal cruelty offences, ordered to pay $20,000 in legal costs and banned from being in charge of livestock for life.
The charges, dealt with in the Perth Magistrates Court, related specifically to 12 sheep across three different properties in the Shires of Corrigin and Bruce Rock.
Inspectors from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) found the sheep to be emaciated and unable to stand, and were subsequently euthanised.
Analysis revealed they had been near starvation for at least four weeks and the majority of the 12 sheep were pregnant or in the process of giving birth when found.
Inspectors identified approximately 4800 live sheep on the properties.
There was not adequate feed available to sustain these sheep. Inspectors observed 93 dead sheep and 89 dead lambs.
On one property, about half of the 1700 Merino ewes were assessed to be in poor condition.
The livestock manager from Applecross pleaded guilty to 20 charges of animal cruelty and was sentenced to a $75,000 fine.
A total of 12 charges related to him as the person principally in charge of the sheep, and a further eight as director of a company which owned some of the sheep.
The company pleaded guilty to 12 charges of animal cruelty, and was sentenced to a $150,000 fine and ordered to pay $10,000 in legal costs.
Some of the offences attracted a higher penalty because they occurred more than a month after the majority of the offences were detected and a direction had been given to take better care of the animals.
DPIRD director of regional compliance Russell Adams said it was clear the offenders were acutely aware of the terrible condition the animals were in.
"All of the animals were entirely dependent for feed," Mr Adams said.
"Many of them were brought onto the farm in a period of very low rainfall, while they were pregnant and, therefore, had very high energy needs.
"There were a number of options available to manage the animals including purchasing and supplying supplementary feed, agisting or selling the animals and seeking veterinary and agricultural advice on management.
"However, there were no steps taken to prevent the cruelty suffered by the animals."
Mr Adams said the significant penalty sent a clear message that the community does not tolerate the inhumane treatment of animals of any kind.
"Mistreatment of animals cannot be permitted to become a business model," he said.
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