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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries


Media contact: MPI media team

A dairy farmer whose neglect of yearling cattle led to 11 deaths has today been fined $17,500 and warned that he could be disqualified from farming if he appears on animal welfare charges again.

Rodney Grant Nicol (61) appeared for sentencing in the Tokoroa District Court, having earlier pleaded guilty to 7 charges under the Animal Welfare Act. Mr Nicol owns a 300-cow dairy farm and had 110 yearling cattle at the time he was investigated by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) from 10 August 2020.

“Most farmers do the right thing for all of their animals, including ensuring that they have sufficient food and are being treated for common conditions such as parasites. If we find evidence of deliberate cruelty to animals, we will hold the person responsible to account,” MPI regional manager animal welfare and NAIT compliance Brendon Mikkelsen says.

During the first visit, an MPI animal welfare inspector found 7 dead yearlings on his paddocks, which Mr Nicol told the inspector he believed had died from parasites. Mr Nicol was then instructed to drench all his yearlings for parasites within 9 working days.

Further complaints about the treatment of the yearlings were received by MPI. A fresh visit by an animal welfare inspector on 22 August 2020 found 32 of the yearlings had not been drenched within the agreed time. Many of the animals were also suffering from chronic undernutrition.

A veterinarian recommended 2 other yearlings be euthanised to end their suffering – including one that was so weak it was stuck in a fence. A tenth animal was found dead near these yearlings. Mr Nicol said an eleventh yearling that had been drenched and given a vitamin B12 shot died after being caught in a heavy rainstorm.

“The vet also noted that he had not come across young stock in such a state of malnourishment during his career, as they were less than half the weight they should have been. These animals would have suffered greatly from the neglect Mr Nicol showed them,” says Mr Mikkelsen.

During the investigation Mr Nicol told an MPI animal welfare inspector that he prioritised his milking herd over ensuring the wellbeing of the yearlings was being met.

Mr Nicol has previously appeared before the courts on an animal welfare charge, which he pleaded guilty to, involving failure to ensure reasonable treatment of a dairy cow with a broken leg.