Shropshire farmer banned from keeping cattle after his staff were filmed kicking calves
A farmer who allowed his staff to kick, push and abuse calves at a livestock centre in Shropshire has received a five-year disqualification order from keeping bovine animals.
Derek Arthur Whittall, of Oaklands Livestock Centre, near Prees, attended Telford Magistrates Court on Monday, April 24, where he pleaded guilty to all six charges brought against him.
The 57-year-old was convicted of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and The Cattle Identification Regulations 2007, including removing ear tags from calves and failing to prevent staff from kicking, pushing and throwing cows down a ramp.
Whittall received an 18-month community order to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work as well as attend 10 RAR days (Rehabilitation Activity Requirement).
He was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £11,855.34 within 12 months and was disqualified for a period of five years, from owning or keeping bovine animals.
In April 2021, undercover footage from the Animal Justice Project was released which showed animals being thrown down trailer ramps; kicked; pushed; dragged by their ears – and the charity said, being deprived of food and water for long periods.
WATCH the undercover footage here - Warning: Contains distressing footage:
Some of the calves came from farms contracted to the dairy giant Müller, whose headquarters are located nearby in Market Drayton.
Müller released a statement saying that it had instructed farmers to cease supplying the centre with immediate effect.
The Animal Justice Project – a UK-based organisation campaigning to end the use and exploitation of animals on farms and in laboratories – said it captured the footage during an undercover investigation between November 2020 and March 2021.
Claire Palmer, director of Animal Justice Project, who carried out the investigation said: “The seriousness of Derek’s crimes cannot be overestimated.
"Not just the removing and inserting of the ear tags in the ears of calves – at a time when farmers are grappling with a Tuberculosis (TB) crisis – but allowing the the abuse of calves on his holding.
"Our cameras showed vulnerable calves at Oaklands Livestock Centre, just a few days old, being treated like trash apparently because they were destined for the abattoir.
"This is indefensible and the sad, every-day, reality for so many farmed animals in this country. Consumers need to be aware so they can make informed food choices as, ultimately, the buck stops with them."
Edie Bowles, solicitor for UK law firm, Advocates for Animals, said: "Following a hard-hitting undercover investigation by our client, Animal Justice Project, we are delighted that Shropshire Council pursued charges which resulted in a conviction, including a five-year disqualification order from keeping bovine animals.
"A recent report by The Animal Law Foundation revealed a systemic problem with violations of animal legal protections for farmed animals going unenforced.
"Shropshire Council's decision to pursue this case should therefore be celebrated and we hope that more local authorities will follow this example and do more to protect farmed animals in future."
Oaklands Livestock Centre is no longer in operation.