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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries


Media contact: MPI media team

A Whāngārei farm manager has been fined $3,130 for failing to minimise pain and distress in dairy cattle.

Michael Ian Luke, a 62-year-old former Mangapai dairy farm manager, appeared in the Whāngārei District Court on 6 July for sentencing after the case was brought to court by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The charge was related to hitting a cow with an alkathene pipe and a metal bar.

Luke entered a guilty plea to a representative charge under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. He was convicted and ordered to pay $3,130. 

As a farm manager, it was Luke’s responsibility to ensure the dairy cows in his care were handled in a way that minimised the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain and distress.

MPI director of compliance Gary Orr said people who were in charge of animals had a duty of care toward them. MPI investigates reports of animal mistreatment and takes appropriate action against offenders.

“The law is clear on these matters and anyone would agree this does not meet our high standards for the care of animals.”

Between 1 April and 18 May 2018, Luke handled dairy cows violently, including striking them with excessive force with an alkathene pipe and hitting them about the legs with a metal pipe.

Luke hit one cow in particular about the legs with a metal pipe so severely that both legs were badly swollen and she struggled to walk.

Instances where individuals are seen to demonstrate poor standards of animal welfare impact on the New Zealand public’s perception of the dairy industry, and the perception of the industry overseas. This in turn impacts on responsible industry players and New Zealand as a whole.  

In New Zealand, everyone must take responsibility for animal welfare. We strongly encourage any member of the public who is aware of animal ill-treatment or cruelty to report it to the MPI animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33 so that prompt action can be taken.

About the dairy cattle code of welfare

The Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare, requires dairy cattle are handled in such a way as to minimise the risk of pain injury or distress. Dairy cattle must not be prodded in sensitive areas, and only the minimum force required must be used when moving them.