Court hears Norfolk farmer kept pigs in “squalid” conditions

Leonard Fulcher outside King's Lynn magistrates court. Picture: Ian Burt Leonard Fulcher outside King's Lynn magistrates court. Picture: Ian Burt

Monday, July 7, 2014
4:27 PM

A farmer kept young pigs in “squalid” conditions without enough food or bedding, a court was told today.

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"Overall, I found Mr Fulcher was not able to look after his younger piglets. The environment was wrong. There didn’t seem to be enough bedding. There didn’t seem to be enough food."

Vet Jane Clark

Richard Fulcher, 61 of Ramblewood Farm, Pott Row, has gone on trial at King’s Lynn Magistrates Court, after pleading not guilty to nine breaches of animal welfare laws relating to his herd.

They include causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare and fail to identify the feed supplier.

After reading the charges out to the court, prosecutor Alan Weetman called vet Lourdes Leon-Fabregas.

Ms Leon-Fabregas said that in September 2010 Trading Standards contacted her after a member of the public raised concerns about how the farmer was treating his pigs.

Ms Leon-Fabregas said: “I went with two Trading Standard Officers. I think there were about 90 pigs of all ages. There about five or six of the pigs that were too thin. I also observed some pigs that were roaming free.

“I discussed my concerns with Mr Fulcher and advised him to separate them in order to supplement them. I also said that the small pigs could get out of their pens where there was a lot of scrap around so I advised him to improve the fencing.”

Ms Leon-Fabregas said an improvement notice for nutrition and the fencing was issued to Mr Fulcher. After a follow up visit a couple of weeks later the vet returned to find that Mr Fulcher had followed her instructions.

But the court heard there was a complaint from aanother member of the public the following year. Ms Leon-Fabregas said during a further inspection in February 2012 she found a group of around 15-20 piglets about 5 weeks old “shivering in a open barn with no roof” and water was found to be frozen or dirty.

Ditrict Judge Peter Veits said that Mr Fulcher could ask the witness questions about her account as he was representing himself.

Mr Fulcher said: “That day was minus six, we had a reserve in a water bowser so there was a supply of water.”

He showed the court pictures of his barn stating that it did have a roof although it had an opened front.

“I am not a commercial farmer,” he said. “I never remove piglets from their mother before 12 weeks.”

Vet Jane Clark told the court that she visited the farm in October, 2012, accompanied by another vet and two police officers.

“Overall, I found Mr Fulcher was not able to look after his younger piglets,” she said. “The environment was wrong. There didn’t seem to be enough bedding. There didn’t seem to be enough food.”

Miss Clark said some of the smaller piglets were emaciated because they couldn’t get enough food. A video was shown of onee animal which could barely stand.

Asked by Mr Weetman whether things had reached the stage where there was suffering, Miss Clark said: “Absolutely.”

Miss Clark said animals were kept on bare mud, with no bedding, in “squallid” conditions.

“They should have a suitable environment and they haven’t got anywhere dry where they can stand, sleep and eat,” she added.

The trial continues.

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