Farmer buries a ton of dead sheep at glamping site


From Cornwall Council:

The owner of a camping and glamping business has admitted burying more than a tonne of dead sheep at the site.

Kevin Hutchings, aged 50, of Pattacott Farm Camping and Glamping site, Maxworthy, has pleaded guilty to seven charges of failing to provide adequate food and medical care to animals and failing to properly dispose of 1250kg of animal by products.

Cornwall Council’s Animal Health team and a vet from the Animal Plant and Health Agency visited the farm in January and February 2020 and found appalling conditions.

Kevin Hill, prosecuting for Cornwall Council, told Plymouth Magistrates’ Court that Hutchings had failed to provide poultry, sheep, pigs and cattle with adequate care. Most animals had no clean water or dry bedding. One lamb had foot rot so severe that the hoof had separated from the foot leaving raw and sensitive tissue exposed.

The officers found an emaciated year-old lamb which was unable to stand, even when assisted by officers. The lamb was cold to the touch and had no food or water.

A vet felt that the lamb had been subjected to cruelty and the animal was put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Officers found fields littered with fleece and sheep carcasses. A rotten stench, which could not be attributed to the carcasses, led the officers to a quarry on the farm that had been used to bury over a tonne and a quarter of dead sheep.

These decomposing sheep accounted for the smell. The Council ordered for these remains to be exhumed and correctly disposed of to prevent any pollution of ground water.

William Hazelton, representing Hutchings, said Hutchings had not sought veterinary advice and that the care given was well intentioned but incompetent.

The court heard Hutchings’ business was under extreme financial strain but that he has now taken steps to improve the conditions on the farm.

The Magistrates gave credit for an early guilty plea, noting that Hutchings now had a sheep health plan in place with his vets and sympathised with his financial situation. With that in mind, they issued a fine of £1,855, ordered him pay £2,400 towards costs and a £181 victim surcharge.

Andy Burnside, who leads Cornwall Council’s animal health team, said: “This case clearly demonstrates that Cornwall Council will take action to ensure that standards are met in our farming industry. This should send a clear message that it is not acceptable to cut corners. Mr Hutchings has been held accountable for his own incompetent actions.”

Councillor Rob Nolan, portfolio holder for Environment and Public Protection at Cornwall Council, said: “Cornwall Council officers work to assist farmers, small holders and businesses across Cornwall in complying with the relevant legislation. However, where officers find serious non-compliance, the Council will take formal action to protect the reputation of the Cornish farming industry.”

Kevin Hutchings pleaded guilty to the following charges:

1) Failure to provide geese with clean water, dry litter, bathing water and allowed them access to a bonfire and scrap which had the potential to cause harm

2) Failure to protect sheep by allowing them access to old feed sacks, twine and collapsed barbed wire which had the potential to harm them

3) Failure to provide prompt and effective treatment of foot rot, which caused a lamb to suffer unnecessarily

4) Failure to ensure the needs of a boar were met by keeping it in isolation and out of sight from other pigs

5) Failure to keep veterinary medicine records for farm animals

6) Causing unnecessary suffering to a collapsed sheep by failing to provide prompt effective treatment

7) Failure to properly dispose of 1250kg of animal by products

The case was heard at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on December 14 2020

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