A Mid Canterbury farmer has pleaded guilty to serious animal
Geoffrey Edgar Walter Deal, 61, appeared before Judge Joanna
Maze in the Ashburton District Court yesterday to face nine
counts laid under the Animal Welfare Act, for failing to meet
adequate standards of care and ill treatment of his dairy
cattle, and refusing to comply with animal welfare
The court was told a national dairy co-operative was notified
of serious problems on Deal's property in the Eiffelton
district, on November 2010 and May 2011.
A dairy industry organisation was involved and following an
inspection, described Deal's stock as in poor to very poor
condition. The farm was lacking in basic infrastructure,
drinking water supply was inadequate, and calves on the
property were malnourished and stunted.
A plan was put in place but Deal made little effort to remedy
the situation. In June 2011 the matter was referred to the
former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. A subsequent vet
inspection found the body weight of 70 per cent of the cows
to be well below minimum standards - up to 100kg underweight.
The vet diagnosed starvation and trace element deficiency.
MAF contracted a farm consultant to provide professional
assistance. However Deal was hostile and unreceptive to the
advice offered, and a mandatory directive stipulating feed
requirements was issued.
By mid-July concerns were raised that some animals would not
survive calving. Two vets, Federated Farmers representatives
and another vet called in by Deal assessed the cattle, and
decided that 92 should be culled - euthanized or sold to meat
works. A decision was made to shoot two immediately to end
their suffering. Post mortems on both showed evidence of
severe malnutrition and parasite infestation.
Arrangements were put in place to transport the animals to a
nearby processing plant within seven days; twice Deal
thwarted plans to slaughter the cows, breaching notices to do
With the welfare of the animals in jeopardy, court order was
gained by MAF, forcing Deal to dispose of 122 of the
remaining cattle, the majority being sold and put on new
Deal was described as obstructive, uncooperative, threatening
and belligerent throughout his dealings with the Ministry of
The ministry is seeking to recover $16,587 for veterinary
services and burial costs.
Judge Maze convicted Deal on all matters, and ordered a
pre-sentence report, including community detention
appendices, for Deal's sentencing date on October 29.
- By Michelle Nelson of the Ashburton Guardian