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Animals verging on feral, court told

PUBLISHED: 10:04 08 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:42 12 July 2010

Further details emerged in court yesterday about the condition of livestock owned by a Norfolk farmer facing animal neglect charges.

David Fryatt, 65, of Pear Tree Farm, Tivetshall St Mary, denies 13 charges including causing unnecessary suffer-ing to animals and failing to provide his herd with a well-drained lying area.

Further details emerged in court yesterday about the condition of livestock owned by a Norfolk farmer facing animal neglect charges.

David Fryatt, 65, of Pear Tree Farm, Tivetshall St Mary, denies 13 charges including causing unnecessary suffer-ing to animals and failing to provide his herd with a well-drained lying area.

When the trial began at King's Lynn Magistrates' Court on Monday, a Defra senior vet described conditions on the farm as horrific and the worst he had seen in his 28-year career. Animal health officers and vets searched the farmyard in April and found dying animals in a quagmire strewn with the carcasses of at least 14 cattle.

Yesterday, Alan Wheetman, prosecuting for Norfolk County Council trading standards department, read a series of reports concerning the welfare of the surviving animals.

A report by Jonathan Jackson, field officer for the International League for the Protection of Horses - now known as World Horse Welfare - said: “It was clear the animals were not handled and were verging on feral. On at least two occasions cattle went in up to their bellies and had to be pulled out.”

Hannah Kelly, a vet who examined two ponies taken to the league's centre at Snetterton, said both creatures were suffering from overgrown hooves and laminitis, an inflammation of the foot.

Her statement said: “In my opinion they have been caused unnecessary suffering for at least three months by the person responsible for their care.”

Another vet, Molly McKay, reported obvious signs of mange on the rescued cattle and said one pregnant heifer was found with a serious abscess and another cow was found with fractures in its limbs that appeared to have healed unaided. Her statement said: “In my opinion these cattle were not fed a wholesome diet appropriate to their age and species and not in sufficient quantities to meet their nutritional needs.”

Trading standards officers transported 14 surviving cattle from the yard and a further 38 from the neighbouring field in Mill Road.

Case officer Julian Watts said that, on one attempt to remove cattle on April 9, he found Fryatt's tractor blocking the access to the field. Five days later he was obstructed by Fryatt's concrete mixer.

The farmer said he had not been asked directly to move the equipment on the days in question.

The court also heard Fryatt had not been paid his annual subsidy from Defra's Rural Payments Agency which he was awaiting to pay for feed blocks to correct magnesium deficiencies in his cattle's blood - which he said was the reason they were sick.

Fryatt, defending himself, is due to present his case today, but during questioning he criticised the “high-handed and misguided attitude” of trading standards officers. He also disputed the severity of the quagmire.

“The muck was no more than boot-deep and had concrete underneath,” he said. “The area was dry enough to drive a tractor around on.”

But Mr Watts said: “The slurry was knee deep and the straw mound was waterlogged, disintegrated and dirty.”

The trial continues.

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