Failure to deal with rotting sheep carcases landed two sheep farmers with hefty fines following a Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards investigation.
On 8th January, at Cheltenham Magistrates Court, Kevin Hancock of Forest Road, Bream, Lydney and Rachel Nyland, also of Forest Road, Lydney pleaded guilty to a combination of 21 offences.
The charges related to a failure to dispose of sheep carcases, failing to report the movement of sheep onto the holding or keep records relating to sheep movements.
Acting on complaints from a member of the public an Animal Health Inspector visited the land that the couple farmed at Oldcroft, Yorkley in Gloucestershire and found a number of well rotted sheep carcases. The officer found one carcass lying in a disused sheep dip, another under a wheelbarrow and one in an open wool sack.
A formal notice was served on Mr. Hancock requiring him to dispose of the carcases by 5pm the following day, but when officers returned he still hadn’t taken them away. The court were advised that the carcases were a disease risk to both farmed livestock and wildlife.
The sheep were identified as belonging to the couple thanks to their distinctive marking ‘N’ and their ear notches, a method of sheep identification. When interviewed, Mr. Hancock claimed that the sheep belonged to his partner Miss. Nyland.
Further investigations found that a number movements of sheep purchased by the couple at local markets had not been reported. Formal demands were made for Hancock or Nyland to produce the records which they were unable to do, claiming that they had been lost.
The couples’ defence asked for credit for their early guilty pleas, as well as pointing to a personal issue within the family.
The chairman of the bench stated that they had listened to what had been said and gave credit for the early guilty pleas. However, he went on to say that the offences were serious and could have caused the spread of disease.
Both Hancock and Nyland were given a conditional discharge for 18 months and each ordered to pay £1,000 towards the costs incurred by Trading Standards in bringing the case and a victim surcharge of £20.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “It is disappointing that we’re once again talking about breaches of legislation which could have a damaging effect on the county’s agricultural industry.
“These rules are in place to help prevent the spread of disease and ignoring them is not something that we will put up with.
“This is an excellent result for our trading standards team and should serve as a warning to others that we will not tolerate these breaches.”