More than 1000 cows on a large Taupo dairy farm were left dangerously thin, sick and "sad'' after months of being underfed, a court has heard.
A trial began in the Rotorua District Court today of five parties, who between them face 625 charges under the Animal Welfare Act of wilfully ill-treating animals and failing to meet their physical needs.
The accused are Southland-based dairy management company MilkPride, its directors Ross Cottier and Murray Flett, its general manager Craig Coote and employee Raymond Griffin, who managed the Taharua Farm near Taupo. The trial is being heard before Judge Phillip Cooper.
The farm was formerly owned by Crafar Farms, however MilkPride bought the animals and plant in 2008 and entered into a 50/50 sharemilking agreement.
Rotorua Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch said the charges stemmed from a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry investigation of the farm in October 2009.
He said the charges before the court related to 1106 cows. A number of other cows were so ill they had to be euthanised.
Defence counsel did not give an opening statement however Mr Pilditch said he anticipated defence experts would contest the Ministry's assessment of the cows' condition.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.