Somerset farmer banned from keeping livestock for 10 years

Posted on: 7 March 2019

A Somerset farmer who was ‘indifferent’ to the suffering he caused his livestock has been banned from keeping animals for ten years and told to pay £15,000.

Brian Churches, 58, of Yew Tree Farm, Rodney Stoke, Cheddar was convicted at Taunton Magistrates on Tuesday 6 March for a range of animal welfare offences at his two farms in Rodney Stoke and Draycott.

Churches pled guilty to 14 charges including causing unnecessary suffering to a severely lame bull and a lame sheep by failing to either treat the animals, call a vet or arrange their humane destruction.

In a prosecution brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards, Churches also failed to provide his animals with a dry lying area and admitted exposing them to a risk of injury by failing to repair broken tin sheeting.

Churches also admitted failing to store feed correctly, failing to protect the feed from hazardous contamination which could harm the health of humans and animals and failing to register and record the births of 36 cattle.

By law cattle births must be registered with the Cattle Movement Service to prevent the potential spread of disease.

There was an additional offence of failing to dispose of a decomposing bovine carcass.

Officers from Trading Standards and the Animal and Plant Health Agency carried out several visits to Churches’ farms between October 2017 and July 2018.

They found that the animals were being kept in appalling conditions, standing in deep wet slurry with no bedding, feed or water.

The district Judge said that Churches had been ‘indifferent’ to the welfare of his stock,  and had failed to heed comprehensive advice given by both trading standards and his own vet.

Churches was convicted of similar offences in 2004 and again in 2005 when he had been disqualified from keeping cattle for three years under the Protection of Animals Act 1911.

Following Churches’ conviction yesterday he was sentenced to 300 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £15,000. In addition, an order was made disqualifying Churches from keeping all animals for 10 years.
Stephen Gardiner, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards’ Legal Process Manager said: “The conditions in which these animals were kept fell well below acceptable welfare standards.  Churches failure to follow the advice of Trading Standards and his own vet left us with no alternative but to take formal action against him in the courts.

“The clear majority of farmers treat their animals well and remain within the law. Those who don’t, like Churches, can be certain that we will continue to take all necessary action to ensure that animal welfare standards are complied with.”

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