NZ dairy manager who broke tails of 200 cows pleads guilty to animal cruelty

NZ dairy manager who broke tails of 200 cows pleads guilty to animal cruelty
A New Zealander who shot one cow in the leg, dumped another one in an offal pit and broke the tails of more than 200 of the creatures has been convicted of animal cruelty, having subjected the cows to the abuse across the space of just over a year in his capacity as dairy manager.

Former dairy manager Michael James Whitelock pleaded guilty to three charges of willfully ill-treating an animal, and one of reckless ill treatment, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Whitelock, now remanded on bail and facing a likely jail sentence in October, headed Landcorp Totara Dairy Unit from July 2012 until his suspension in September 2013. An interior investigation at the farm revealed a large number of animal cruelty cases.

Its results were subsequently reported to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which also began its own investigation. It showed that 152 cows and 57 heifers of the farm’s 1,100 animals had broken tails.

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To force cows into a milking shed, their tails were deliberately twisted. The pain the cows felt at that moment was comparable to the pain a person feels when their fingers are being broken, investigators said.

Apart from beating up animals, the farmers did not provide adequate treatment for animals’ injuries.

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According to the MPI report, Whitelock also shot a cow trying to euthanize it, but before dumping it in the offal pit he did not make sure that the cow was dead. Another cow was reported to have been forced to walk two kilometers with a broken hoof.

Whitelock said that he "loved the time of the year" when he "got to beat the cows," according to The New Zealand Herald. Accompanied by other employees, he shot cows in the legs or punched cows in the udder.

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Other charges brought against Whitelock included the unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The man also had no license for a shotgun and a rifle, which were found in his home in his children’s bedroom. During the investigation, he tried to persuade a witness to give a false statement, and attempted to hide evidence of his cruelty by burying an injured cow in the farm’s bushes.