At the beginning of July Why Animal Rights Matter and Melbourne Sheep Save began investigating a sheep farm in the Victorian town of Euroa. The following concerns were forwarded as a complaint to the Euroa Police, Strathbogie Council and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). This farm which has a flock of between 40 and 60 sheep presented with many serious issues such as:
1. Severe lice infestation. Chronic itching of adult sheep and lambs was witnessed on many occasions. The tearing and breaks in the wool was a clear and obvious indication of lice (See photos)
2. Overgrown Fleece. Many of the sheep on this property had not been shorn for at least two years. Some were so bad that the wool was covering their eyes almost completely. To think these animals have had to endure hot summers in such condition is appalling.
3. Limping. A number of adult sheep and lambs were seen to be limping. One lamb in particular could not weight bare on a back leg due, we assume, to an injury that was causing him pain.
4. At least 10 sheep carcasses were discovered on this property. A high amount given the small size of the farm. They were just left rotting where they fell causing possible health concerns. Two sheep were found deceased between the first report and the second report a week later.
5. Certain sheep looked incredibly thin. Given they were covered in lice it is not surprising that the weaker ones were just not well.
6. Sheep had not been crutched
7. There were concerns given the lack of care to these animals that it is likely they were also suffering from worms and overgrown hooves.
The Senior Officer – Animal Welfare at DEDJTR replied to our complaint in part as follows:
“Departmental officers are continuing to monitor the situation as part of the investigation and it would therefore be inappropriate for us to make any comment concerning the progress of the investigation.
We nonetheless thank you for your interest in this important animal welfare issue and assure you that appropriate action will be taken against any person found to be in contravention of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. “
On 15th July 2017 the animals on this farm were once again checked by W.A.R.M. and MSS. All the adult sheep had gone through shearing that day. One can only imagine how it must feel to be rid of years worth of heavy fleece infested with lice.
Although what we discovered today was certainly a step in the right direction for these animals, this investigation is not over. There is now a danger that the sheep will suffer due to being shorn in the middle of winter, particularly the thin and weak and the pregnant ewes who will now have to fight hard to stay warm especially over the coming nights when they are not used to having no wool.
This situation is an incredibly difficult one. This farmer, whose house is next to the paddock these sheep live in, has clearly breached his responsibility in providing adequate care. He has ignored their appalling physical state which could not have gone unnoticed. He has failed these animals in every way possible and not just recently but for a very long time. They have suffered greatly and are still in danger from the elements all because he just did not care. There is no other reason for why this could have happened.
It is the hope of W.A.R.M. and MSS that this person will be held accountable and charged with animal cruelty and neglect. The photos speak for themselves.