A SHEEP farmer has been convicted and fined $15,000 in a St Arnaud court after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges.
More than 20 sheep were either euthanased or died from their malnourished condition on multiple properties belonging to the man at Corack and Chinkapook.
Further sheep required urgent veterinary care after they were solely relying on supplementary feed. There were 350 sheep in the man’s care.
The 77-year-old from Corack, near Donald, was sentenced in the St Arnaud Magistrates’ Court earlier this month on 19 charges.
Agriculture Victoria officers visited the properties in April and May 2015 where they found flocks of sheep in an “emaciated condition”.
Senior veterinary officer Dr Sarah Hall said some of the sheep were either recently dead or down, and were unable to rise.
"There was no available feed for the sheep and they were solely reliant on the provision of supplementary feed," she said.
"A number of sheep were located with untreated conditions or injuries and the accused failed to provide veterinary or other appropriate treatment to these sheep."
In a summary presented to the St Arnaud Magistrates' Court, prosecutor Scott Ward said the accused was in charge of the sheep and there was very little paddock feed available and he had failed to provide proper and sufficient feed to the sheep in his care.
Magistrate Klestadt said the farmer had completely ignored his duty of care and treated the sheep as financial units.
He said the sheep had suffered a criminal level of neglect undergoing great suffering, were malnourished, riddled with pests and, in some cases, injured and left untreated.
As well as the conviction and the $15,000 fine, the farmer was ordered to pay service costs.
Dr Hall said the case served as a reminder it was an offence for livestock owners to fail to provide for the welfare of animals under their care and control.
"All reasonable attempts must be made to ensure suffering and weak animals are euthanased, and proper and sufficient feed is supplied to livestock," she said.