William Ronald Armstong, a farmer from the Gorey Road, Cabragh, Co. Tyrone, reappeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court yesterday, February 12th, after previously pleading guilty to 16 offences in 2018.
The Tyrone farmer admitted to eight counts of animal welfare breaches, three counts of failing to ensure animal needs, two counts each of failing to keep and produce medical veterinary records and one count of failing to hold a carcass, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.
Inspectors were alerted to the situation on Armstrong's farm by an anonymous report and subsequently carried out an inspection on the farm. Upon arrival, they found calves living in filthy pens with no access to clean water. They also found three dead calves lying amongst the animals.
The courts heard of the deplorable conditions in which cows were subjected to, with many found standing in overflowing slurry and carcasses littering the floor beneath them. Inspectors even found the carcass of a cow and calf which died during the birthing process.
Further visits -
Notices were then issued by the DEARA NI for the disposal of all carcasses and for the animals to all be given access to clean water and dry bedding.
Upon their return to the farm they found that although the carcasses had been removed, the housing remained dirty. They noted eight cows in total which were emaciated, with two other lame cows and another unable to bear weight on one of its legs.
When the farmer was asked to produce any and all medical records, he said he didn’t have them but would source them for the next inspection. At the final inspection carried out three weeks ago, it was noted that only some of the issues had been resolved, with pens containing calves still filthy.
The defence lawyer for the farmer claimed that Mr. Armstrong struggled to get slurry out in 2017, describing it as one of the worst years for farmers.
"The summer of 2017 was one of the worst for farmers who could not get their slurry tanks emptied," he said.
"It's a miracle he was able to get out at all.
Judge Archer spoke of his deep concern at the state of the farm before he adjourned the hearing to allow for further inspections. Mr Armstrong will be sentenced in May.