[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Cattle abandoned as owners jailed
Cattle on the farm
About 30 cattle left on the farm are starving to death
Up to 90 cows at a farm in Alvechurch, in Worcestershire, have been killed after being abandoned when their owners were jailed.

Owners of Emmadale Farm in Rowley Green Lane, Lionel, David and Stephen Tonge, were jailed in May for non-payment of fines for animal welfare breaches.

Of the 200 animals at the farm, 90 have been put down and a further 30 are slowly starving to death.

Local farmers said they could not help as they would become liable.

The three owners of the farm were found guilty of breaching the Protection of Animals Act at a trial in 2003 In total they were fined in excess of 100,000.

Take responsibility

They were jailed for 12 months each on May 25 for failing to pay the fine.

John Puckering, who works on a farm nearby, said: "The cattle are slowly starving to death.

"This is why I'm trying to get somebody to take some responsibility for the animals, trading standards or Defra, and instruct somebody to look after them."

But Andy Williams, animal health manager at Worcestershire County Council, said: "There is very little we can do.

"To take the animals off the farm we need a court order which would take so long it's a non starter and if we start caring for them the authority would become liable which we want to avoid.

"We are monitoring the situation daily and where necessary the state veterinary service is used to humanely destroy the animals."

Call for action

Councillor Roger Hollingsworth, leader of Bromsgrove District Council in whose ward the farm is located, called for action by the agriculture minister Ben Bradshaw.

"These animals are in a sickening state, covered with worms. I hate to seen animals suffering in this way.

"I understand the animals could be cared for under a process if their identity is uncertain, but it needs Ben Bradshaw to do that.

"I would like the minister to get off the fence and take some action in this case."

Urgent inquiry

Speaking on BBC Radio WM Mr Bradshaw said: "I will happily look at this urgently."

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said: "We are concerned about reports of animals suffering.

"We are getting back in touch with trading standards to clarify the legal position to see if we can help."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the abandoned cows in their field



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific