A MURTOA man has been disqualified from owning sheep for two years after his livestock almost died from lack of food and water during the drought.
Roderick Hammond, 45, pleaded guilty to 14 animal cruelty charges in Horsham Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Agricultural Victoria senior prosecutor Michael Woods said animal health officers visited Hammond’s Rupanyup property three times in May 2015.
He said during the first visit on May 18, officers observed barely any pasture growth on the property.
Officers found several ewes that were unable to stand or move. Mr Woods said many of the ewes had a large pile of faeces behind them, indicating they had been there for a long time.
Most of the sheep had no access to food or water and many were pregnant.
One ewe was only able to blink when officers approached, while others had blood coming out of their eyes because of birds.
Another ewe was caught in fencing wire. The court heard that on the first visit, officers euthanised eight sheep.
Hammond was given a notice, which required him to supply sheep with appropriate food and water.
Officers visited Hammond’s property again on May 22 and found a pregnant ewe that struggled to walk, another ewe that could not stand and two dead lambs.
The ewes were euthanised and Hammond was issued with another notice.
The court heard that on May 25, officers visited again and found another four sheep that were unable to stand or move.
Two sheep were missing eyes because of birds.
Mr Woods said Hammond’s livestock was subjected to prolong pain and suffering. “This situation raises concerns about Hammond’s ability to be in charge of animals,” he said.
“There shouldn’t have been any cruelty following the inspections.”
Defence barrister Anthony Kelly said Hammond let the situation get out of control.
“He was waiting for the rain and it all unravelled on him,” he said.
“If he had his time over, he would not have taken on the sheep, or got rid of them when things started to turn.”
Magistrate Mark Stratmann said he was at a loss as to why Hammond did not take action to deal with the matter.
He convicted him on the charges and fined him $5000.
He disqualified him from owning, or being in charge of, sheep for two years.