Farmer in court after pig deaths

A pig farmer was given a lengthy community punishment yesterday after welfare inspectors found six of his animals dead and dying in deep slurry.

A pig farmer was given a lengthy community punishment yesterday after welfare inspectors found six of his animals dead and dying in deep slurry.

Richard Read, 52, of Decoy Farm, Sedge Fen, near Brandon, was ordered to do 240 hours unpaid work and banned from keeping pigs for life after admitting six counts of cruelty and one of neglect.

Hayley Saunders, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told Bury St Edmunds magistrates that the six animals had been abandoned for period of "three weeks or possibly more".

RSPCA officer David Podmore was called to Read's farm on March 15 where he was met by the defendant's wife who escorted him to some pigs, the court heard.

After seeing a few animals, which were described as "lean" and of "reasonable condition", Mr Podmore then saw a further barn and found three pigs that were so thin their hips ribs and backbones showed and one of them was loosing its skin under its belly because of the squalid conditions.

Three other pigs were found already perished in the mud - one was found to have suffocated on slurry.

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"There was no bedding and there was thick layer of slurry several inches deep all over the floor. There was a third pig further inside but it was difficult to tell it was a pig at all it was so buried in the slurry," said Miss Saunders.

Read told the RSPCA that the animals had been suffering from pneumonia, which he said accounted for their poor condition, but had not considered calling a vet and had been treating the infection himself.

Kieron Dumphy, for Read, said: "At the first available opportunity he has pleaded guilty and given his full cooperation to the RSPCA.

"He is a man of good character who comes to court with a great shame and remorse of how those pigs were treated.

"He has grown up caring for animals and he has cared for pigs for most of his life.

"And he accepts full responsibility; he simply didn t have the presence of mind to call a vet."

Mr Dumphy also submitted letters vouching for Read's good character as well as a letter from his GP showing that Read had suffered depression following the prosecution.

Magistrates also ordered Read to pay in excess of £1,500 in costs to the RSPCA.