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'Horrific' find in barren paddock as nine complaints made to RSPCA

Its the second time the farmers have faced court.

WARNING – CONFRONTING CONTENT: It was 2012 when the first reports were made about two brothers running a farm on South Australia’s Mid North.

The caller was concerned about what she’d seen wandering through the farmers’ barren paddocks. Since then, the RSPCA has responded to nine reports of dead and emaciated cattle at the brothers’ three Rocky Plains properties. The last was made in 2018 with a report that 10 were dead, 20 were emaciated, and several had broken through fences to scavenge for food.

Concerned for their safety, the RSPCA called for police backup before entering the farms. What they found was described as “appalling”.

Three police officer stand around a dying bull.
Dead and dying animals were found by police and RSPCA. Source: Supplied

What were the 'horrific' finds at the brothers' properties?

Across the paddocks, 50 cattle were found dead and vets assessed the survivors as being “at serious risk of imminent death”. A bull and a sheep were euthanised on the spot because they were too weak to stand.

“There has been a total absence of basic animal husbandry activities by these two farmers,” RSPCA inspector Andrea Lewis said. “Aside from insufficient supplies of food and water, they failed to do routine care such as parasite treatment and herd management."

A sheep on its side that appeared not to have been shorn for many years.
Authorities believe a sheep found at one of the properties hadn't been shorn in two years. Source: RSPCA

In total 76 cattle, 11 sheep, and four firearms were seized from the properties. “The death and suffering that we all witnessed on their properties when we seized surviving animals was simply horrific,” Ms Lewis said.

The state’s maximum penalty for animal cruelty is $20,000, or two years imprisonment, but if the cruelty is found to be aggravated that jumps to $50,000 or four years in jail.

What happened to the brothers after their properties were raided?

Yesterday, the two brothers – now aged 67 and 71 – were sentenced in the Adelaide Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to four charges relating to ill-treatment of animals.

The men were both placed on $500 good behaviour bonds and ordered to pay $6600 in legal costs. This conviction follows a prosecution in 2005 during which the brothers pled guilty to ill-treatment of pigs and were placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

While the pair will be allowed to own cats, dogs and a number of fowl, they have been banned from keeping other animals.

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