A North Cornwall farmer has been handed a suspended prison sentence, ordered to pay more than £6,000 in fines and costs and banned from keeping pigs, geese and sheep for six years after admitting a string of animal welfare offences.

Kevin Hutchings, 53, of Pattacott Farm Camping and Glamping site, Maxworthy, Launceston pleaded guilty to a number of charges, namely: not housing geese in contravention of last winter’s poultry housing order, allowing geese to have access to scrap and broken glass, failing to provide pigs clean water, dry bedding and allowing access to sharp injurious objects, failing to provide emaciated sheep prompt effective treatment or giving them good quality feed, failing to provide baby piglets clean dry bedding and keeping sheep without adequate grazing and having access to collapsed fencing.

District Judge Stuart Smith heard the case at Bodmin Magistrates Court on Thursday,  December 21.

Cornwall Council’s animal health team and vets from the Animal Plant and Health Agency visited the farm in January and February 2023 and found appalling conditions.

Kevin Hill prosecuted for Cornwall Council and informed the court that Mr Hutchings had failed to provide geese, sheep and pigs with adequate care.  Most pigs had no clean water or dry bedding, the roof of one building had collapsed leaving rain to soak the pigs bedding.   Geese had access to broken glass and scrap and were not housed as required by last winter’s housing order.  This was to prevent bird flu from wild birds infecting captive birds, and causing the disease to spread, necessitating the culling of commercial flocks.

The officers found emaciated sheep, one of which was so weak it collapsed during examination.  It had no muscle or fat covering on its back or pelvis. The sheep had a condition score of zero and was emaciated to the point of death, sadly this sheep later died. Two other emaciated sheep were nursed back to health by Mr Hutchings.

One pen of newly born piglets had dirty water and wet, faeces coated, bedding.  The piglets were huddled together to stay warm and were all shivering due to the cold.  Their mother’s feed trough was broken and had jagged sharp edges, which could have injured the piglets or sow.

Chris Spencer, representing Mr Hutchings said that he was under ‘extreme financial strain’ and that last winter he had attempted to trade his way out of debt, but that this had resulted in him overstocking the farm so not all animals had food.  Since the officers visits Mr Hutchings had taken steps to improve the conditions on the farm. He had sold some sheep and pigs.

DJ Smith said that he considered in all the matters Mr Hutchings had high culpability and the harm caused to the emaciated sheep  was serious.  The matter was aggravated by Mr Hutchings’ previous conviction, the number of animals affected and his aggression shown towards the inspectors.  He noted that Mr Hutchings had taken steps to remedy the situation on his farm. 

Mr Hutchings was given a custodial sentence of four weeks for the AI housing breach, six weeks for the failures to safeguard the welfare of his sheep, geese and pigs (to be served concurrently) and given 18 weeks custody for the long term neglect of his emaciated sheep (this was to be served consecutively).  A total of 22 weeks, this was suspended for 18 months.

He was also ordered to pay a £200 fine, a £154 surcharge and the council’s costs of £6,123.

Mr Hutchings was also banned from keeping pigs, sheep and geese for six years, this was suspended for 56 days to allow for disposal of the animals.  Mr Hutchings was warned that any re-offending in the next 18 months would activate the suspended sentence in full.