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Farmer sentenced for animal neglect

A livestock keeper from Staffordshire Moorlands has been given a 12 month community order, a £250 fine and ordered to pay £1000 towards costs for animal neglect offences.

Alan Belfield, 67 of High Street, Ipstones, pleaded guilty to 18 charges of animal neglect and failing to correctly dispose of the carcases of animals that had died. Belfield was sentenced at a hearing on Wednesday 19 January at Cannock Magistrates court by District Judge Grego.

When Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards animal health officers visited the holding used by Belfield at Wetley Rocks in September 2020, they found three sheep in poor bodily condition. One of the sheep was suffering from Flystrike and others with abnormal udders, one of which had a black cable tie fastened around the udder. During the inspection, other sheep in the flock were found to be exhibiting signs of lameness, a matter that Belfield had previously been warned about in 2019.

In addition, the investigation identified that Belfield had failed to report movements of sheep from a local livestock market to his holding or keep an annual inventory of the numbers of sheep he owned.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “The vast majority of livestock keepers act responsibly and play an important part in our rural economy. Unfortunately on rare occasions we do get cases like this where animals are badly neglected.

“We are pleased this case has reached a successful conclusion. This sentence sends out a clear message that our animal health team will take action against those who break the law in such a manner.”

Whilst no disqualification order has been given, it was made clear to Mr Belfield that if matters deteriorate and he ends up back before the court in the future, the consequences would be severe.

In mitigation regarding the incident, Belfield supplied character references and has changed his farming practices.

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