Tail damage draws $4800 fine

A company that failed to protect its cows from tail damage has been fined $4800 — $2400 on each of two Animal Welfare Act charges.

The Ministry for Primary Industries prosecution followed an inspection at the Oakleigh Rd, Clifton, farm of Dogterom Geddes Ltd in December 2021.

Forty-one of 129 2018-born cows had damaged tails.

Eighteen of 126 2019-born cows had damaged tails.

In reply to a question from Judge Jim Large, prosecuting counsel Leonie Matehaere said cows, being sentient, would show signs of pain. It would have been apparent to milk shed workers "working at the tail end of the cow". Considerable force was required to break a cow’s tail.

Counsel Scott Wilson, of Christchurch, said some tail damage, "colloquially known as tail break", could be picked up visually but sometimes it was not evident to the human eye.

There was disappointment from the company’s perspective.

"There were some signals. Had they been noticed, we wouldn’t be here today," he said in the Dunedin District court yesterday.

Cameras had now been installed in the shed and staff had undergone tail-handling training.

The judge noted the injured tails were not caused by the company’s principals, rather its employees must have undertaken the activity causing the damage. It was not possible to say when the injuries occurred. The company was charged as being responsible for its employees’ actions.

On each of the two charges, both admitted, the company was fined $2400.