A husband and wife have been given suspended jail sentences after admitting to animal cruelty offences and failing to dispose of animal carcases correctly, for a flock of sheep that they owned.
Martin Lownds, 62, and his wife Jacqueline Lownds, 62, from Churnetside Garage, Abbey Green Road, Leek, pleaded guilty to eight offences, including a failure to provide adequate care for the animals. They also admitted to five offences for failing to remove dead animals from their farm.
The couple were sentenced at Telford Magistrates court on Tuesday 14 November. Both were sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years and were ordered to pay a total of £12,000 in costs.
When animal health officers from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team visited the farm in early 2022, they found sheep living in extremely poor welfare conditions. Despite formal improvement notices and continued advice to support the couple with compliance, in April 2022, the situation was so bad on the farm that officers had no option other than to take livestock into their possession, due to the sheep suffering unnecessarily.
A significant number of dead animals were found at the site, including multiple deaths of lambs that had not received appropriate care following their birth. Dead animals were also found in pens with live animals. The shed where the sheep were housed was not suitable and little food, water or dry lying were being provided for the animals.
Despite knowing that their animals were suffering, the couple admitted that they failed to take appropriate action or seek veterinary advice to prevent further unnecessary suffering.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “This was a very distressing case involving some of the most vulnerable animals in farming.
“Mr and Mrs Lownds failed to provide basic husbandry needs, at a time when extra attention should have been provided. When ewes are lambing, they need extra attention to ensure the welfare of the mother and offspring is not compromised.
“Our animal health team work hard to make sure that livestock is looked after properly and that the controls put in place to ensure animal welfare needs are met by those who provide their care. Thankfully, the vast majority of Staffordshire farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals and follow the rules. However, on some occasions, we do see cases where these expected high standards are not met.
“Today’s sentence sends out a clear message that our trading standards animal health team will take action against those who break the law in such a manner.”