A Trinant farmer has been banned from owning or keeping animals after a Caerphilly County Borough Council Trading Standards investigation found that he had caused unnecessary suffering to a large number of animals in his care.
Brenig Hardacre, 45 from Trinant, Caerphilly county borough pleaded guilty to 30 animal welfare offences involving horses, cattle and other livestock under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Newport Magistrates Court heard how Animal Health Officers from Caerphilly County Borough Council, with support from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) and Redwings Vets made a series of visits to Old Gelli and Lower Llanerch Farm in Trinant between January and March 2013.
They found dead and dying horses, cattle, sheep and pigs which had been kept in unsuitable conditions, were underfed and suffered from inadequate husbandry.
58 horses were subsequently removed with the help of Redwings Horse Sanctuary, assisted by Horseworld. Additionally 21 cattle, 45 sheep and 8 pigs were taken into possession by Caerphilly County Borough Council's Trading Standards team.
Mr Hardacre had been advised on numerous occasions previously, but he consistently failed to follow the advice given.
At Newport Magistrates Court today (Friday 21 March), Hardacre was given a 12 month Community Order for 200 hours unpaid work , £1000 contribution to costs, and a victim surcharge of £60 with a 14 day collection order.
He was also given a disqualification order for equines and livestock under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which remains in force until further order of the court. This includes owning, keeping, transporting, and controlling or influencing the way in which equines and livestock are kept or transported.
Charges against another defendant were dropped on the grounds of age and ill health, who also signed a voluntary disqualification order for equines and livestock.
In passing sentence the Chair of the Bench stated that 'this was a very serious and distressing case of animal neglect'. He added that 'the defendant was put in a difficult situation by his father and asked to run a poorly maintained farm for no payment but nevertheless the defendant took on a task which was beyond his capabilities and resulted in appalling acts of animal neglect'. He also stated that 'they did not believe the defendant did this deliberately but his mistake was not to involve the local authority sooner'.
Cllr David Poole, Caerphilly County Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure Services said, "I am truly appalled that these animals could have been kept in conditions such as these, and commend our team of Animal Health Officers and partners at various animal welfare organisations for their swift action to protect these animals in need. I am also pleased that the court has emphasised the seriousness of the offences in the sanctions it has imposed in this case".
Following the removal of the animals from the farm, Redwings took in 53 horses and 13 foals have since been born. The rest of the horses were taken to Horseworld in Bristol, and all have made a full recovery and have now been offered a permanent home at the charities.
Redwings' Head of Welfare Nic de Brauwere said: "This was a truly shocking case and we are delighted that justice has been done at last. I described them at the time as 'queuing to die', and that is exactly what they were doing. They were absolutely starving, even breaking their teeth amongst the stones looking for grass. To add to their misery they were covered in lice and had dreadful worm burdens. Some of the horses were already dead when we arrived, and many more were dying. One elderly mare was on the verge of collapse and had to be supported and helped to stand for weeks afterwards because she was so weak. It was utterly unnecessary suffering. We would like to give all credit to Trading Standards for pursuing this case and ensuring justice was done for those poor ponies".
To report an issue to Caerphilly County Borough Council's Trading Standards team please call 01495 235 291 or visit www.caerphilly.gov.uk/tradingstandards