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Shropshire farmer, 72, banned from keeping cattle

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A 72-year-old farmer who is already thousands of pounds in debt has been banned from keeping cattle for 10 years after admitting not looking after her animals properly.

At least 25 cattle at Rye Hills Farm and Kenwicks Farm at Whixall, near Whitchurch, were found to be in a "low state of health", a number had indications of disease and one had an untreated eye infection, Shrewsbury Magistrates Court was told.

Farmer Olive Mary Furber said she had struggled to cope after attempting to "soldier on" when her husband Bill developed dementia.

The court heard the couple had a £30,000 debt on animal feed alone and that Furber had also not kept correct records of ear tags, identification passports and the births and deaths of a number of cattle.

Furber, of Kenwicks Farm, Moss Lane, Whixall, had admitted six charges relating to British cattle regulations and cattle identification rules.

In addition she pleaded guilty to five offences of failing to ensure the welfare of cattle under her control at the Whixall smallholdings.

Furber was given a conditional discharge for three years and ordered to pay £2,746 in court costs.

Under the Animal Welfare Act the magistrates also imposed the 10-year disqualification which prevents Furber from owning, keeping or participating in the control of bovines.

The ban was suspended for 14 days to enable Shropshire Council officials to dispose of the animals at the farms at Rye Hills, Kenwicks and Moseley Well.

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The defendant was ordered to allow officials access to take possession of the animals to determine whether they are suitable for sale or to be destroyed and she must pay the cost of the local authority operation.

All the offences were committed on various dates between October last year and March this year and followed inspections by Shropshire trading standards officials.

The court heard that in 2009 the defendant had been fined £3,000 for a number of similar offences involving the welfare and husbandry of cattle.

Mr Mike Davies, prosecuting for Shropshire Council, said under European legislation on movement of cattle both identification passports and ear tags were required.

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"The death, birth and movement must be reported," he said.

"While it is a lot of administration, it is needed to identify risk of disease, such as foot and mouth, and prevent the spread of any disease."

Mr Davies said inspections in February revealed that 25 animals were not getting adequate nutrition.

Mr Adrian Roberts, for Furber, said his client and her husband Bill and son, Stuart, all had cattle at the farms which had declined over recent years.

"Mr Furber was declared bankrupt earlier this year and the farms had a £30,000 animal feed debt," Mr Roberts said.

"Her husband had developed dementia and the problems started in 2009 - she had taken over his herd and 'soldiered on' but was physically unable to do everything."

Mr Roberts said documents were "in chaos" but there had been no deliberate intent to hide the paperwork and there was no intent to harm the animals.

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