Three Staffordshire farmers have been convicted for offences relating to animal welfare, cattle identification and movement rules.

51-year-old Charles Gibson and 44-year-old Alison Bailey, both of Leonards Farm, Hot Lane, Biddulph Moor, pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences at Cannock Magistrates Court in April of this year and were sentenced on Tuesday (October 17).

Wheelton Farms Ltd, represented by its director Martin Wheelton from Millend Farm, Harbour Lane, Macclesfield, pleaded guilty to cattle identification and movement offences.

The farmers were prosecuted by Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards animal health team.

‘Extremely poor conditions’

In May 2020, Staffordshire County Council said welfare issues were found at a farm being run by Gibson and Bailey when livestock, including young calves, were found being kept in extremely poor conditions. 

A number of dead animals were found in pens with live animals, pens where livestock were kept were not suitable and had little food, water or dry lying was being provided to the animals.

With low value, untagged calves found at the farm which had been given to Gibson, Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards animal health team found that Wheelton Farms Ltd was complicit in the failure to comply with the traceability requirements for bovine animals.

The case, which the council said was one of the worse witnessed by the team, resulted in the animals being taken into the possession of the local authority at the time, in a bid to prevent further suffering. 

At the sentencing at Telford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (October 17), Gibson was given a 20-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work. 

Gibson was also ordered to pay fines of £4,000, a victim surcharge of £128, and given a lifetime ban from keeping all animals.

Bailey was given a community order with 80 hours unpaid work, ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £90. She was also given a lifetime ban from keeping all animals. 

Wheelton Farms Ltd received fines totalling £32,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 in costs.

A ‘particularly upsetting case’

Cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards at Staffordshire County Council, Victoria Wilson, said: “Our animal health team work hard to make sure that livestock is looked after properly and there is the required traceability of animals.

“This is a particularly upsetting case involving a number of vulnerable, new-born animals where their basic needs for care and identification were not met.

“Thankfully, the vast majority of Staffordshire farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals and follow the rules. However, on some occasions, we do see incidents where these standards are not met, as in this case.”

Wilson said the council was pleased that the court reached a “successful conclusion” and that this case should send a clear message that the council will take action to ensure the welfare needs of animals are met and that livestock identification and movement rules are adhered to.