A Palmerston North man has been jailed and his wife fined $30,000 after pleading guilty to a total of 20 charges relating to the abuse of cows and calves in their care.
Thirty-eight-year-old Noel Pirika Erickson, admitted the charges when he appeared in the Huntly District Court yesterday.
The charges were laid under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relate to Erickson's treatment of 115 bobby calves over two days in August 2015 when he was working as a slaughter man at Down Cow, a slaughter house near Te Kauwhata.
The charges Erickson has pleaded guilty to include two charges of wilfully ill-treating a calf and representative charges of recklessly ill-treating calves, ill-treating calves, and using blunt force trauma.
The penalties for the offences range from a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or maximum fine of $100,000 (or both), to charges carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment or a maximum fine of $50,000 (or both).
Erickson will be sentenced on July 28, 2016.
The Ministry for Primary Industries laid the charges as part of its investigation into the alleged mistreatment of bobby calves.
The investigation began in September last year after MPI received many hours of footage recording alleged offences involving bobby calves in the Waikato region.
MPI Acting Director of Compliance, Steve Gilbert, says MPI takes animal abuse very seriously.
"The mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated. When we get information about the mistreatment of animals, we investigate. When there is offending, people are held to account."
MPI recently consulted on new bobby calf regulations as part of a wider animal welfare regulations consultation process.
Gilbert says once the bobby calf regulations are implemented, MPI will work with farming, transport, vet and processing groups to ensure everyone is informed and made aware of the new rules.
"We will work with all interested parties to support their introduction". MPI laid a further four representative charges against a company and an individual last month in relation to alleged animal welfare offences involving bobby calves.
The first hearing for those charges has been set down for June 21, 2016.
MPI investigators are actively pursuing other lines of inquiry and, as these matters are both under investigation and before the court, MPI is unable to comment any further.