Farmer banned from keeping animals

Magistrates have banned a Kent farmer from keeping animals for five years for causing unnecessary suffering to cattle and poultry at his farm in Halstead.

Craig Sargent, 46, who also runs a butcher's shop in South London, was also fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £20,289 in costs by Sevenoaks magistrates.

The RSPCA said it found a bull at Oaks Farm with hooves so overgrown they "looked like Turkish slippers". Other cows were living in up to 3ft (90cm) of slurry.

The court was told Sargent also had a chicken shed containing birds so badly feather-pecked their backs were bleeding.

Water troughs for pigs, cattle and sheep were dry except for one, which contained a pea-green liquid at the bottom.

Defending, Dickon Reid said: "There was no wilful mistreating of these animals. The offences are very much at the lower end of causing unnecessary suffering."

Sargent, who has been a farmer for more than 20 years, was found guilty of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the bull, cattle and poultry.

He was also found guilty of failing to ensure cattle had dry bedding and failing to provide fresh drinking water to cattle, pigs and sheep.

The 46-year-old was cleared of causing unnecessary suffering to a pregnant cow, whose hooves were allegedly overgrown.

The five-year ban covers sheep, pigs, poultry and cattle. However, the fine, costs and disqualification were suspended pending an appeal.

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