Peter Anthony William Muller was fined $21,739 including veterinarian expenses and costs for docking the tails of dairy cows.
Of 592 cows inspected, the Ministry of Primary Industries found 534 cows had parts of their tails (from above the last two to three vertebrae) removed.
The 65-year-old Waitomo dairy farmer was sentenced in the Te Kūiti District Court on one charge under the Animal Welfare Act, following a prosecution taken by MPI.
MPI national manager of animal welfare and National Animal Identification and Tracing compliance Gray Harrison said Muller deliberately ill-treated the cows by systematically docking their tails, causing unnecessary and unreasonable pain.
“In NZ, docking is prohibited as the tail is a very important and sensitive part of the cow’s body. It’s used to control flies, but it is also used in social signalling and interactions.”
The prosecution relates to an inspection of Muller’s farm on December 15, 2020. Animal welfare inspectors were assisted by a veterinarian.
It was later established the tails of 64 of the cows had been docked in late July, early August 2020 after Muller was informed by a veterinarian one month earlier that the docking of cow tails was now fully prohibited and had been since October 1, 2018.
“Where we have clear evidence of offending of this nature, we will take prosecution action,” Harrison said.
MPI encourages anyone with information about potential animal welfare offending to use its hotline number 0800 00 83 33.