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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

A former Waikato sharemilker found responsible for tail injuries to 84 cows, leading to some tails being amputated, has been placed on home detention for 7 months and banned from being in sole charge of animals for 2 years.

Following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Mark Donald Richardson (48) was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court today (17 October 2023) on 2 charges under the Animal Welfare Act that he earlier pleaded guilty to.

“MPI takes animal welfare very seriously. Most people in charge of animals treat their animals well. One of the disturbing aspects in this case was that 4 of these animals had to have their tails amputated because their injuries were so severe,” says MPI acting regional manager, animal welfare and National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) compliance, Richard Knight.

A 50:50 sharemilker, Mark Richardson was in sole charge of a herd of about 165 cows at Te Awamutu between November 2015 and 1 February 2020. He sold the herd and because the new owner noticed lumps in many of the cow’s tails, a veterinarian examined all the cows and found evidence of tail breaks.

“Mr Richardson admitted that he may have broken some tails accidentally, but 84 cows had injuries and would have suffered prolonged and significant pain, along with distress and the loss or damage to a body part. When we find evidence of animal neglect or deliberate abuse, we take action,” he says.

MPI encourages anyone with information about potential animal welfare offending to use its confidential hotline number 0800 00 83 33.

For further information and general enquiries, call MPI on 0800 008 333 or email

For media enquiries, contact the media team on 029 894 0328.