Animal welfare officers have euthanised 180 cows and calves found starving and near death on a West Coast farm.
The Ministry of Primary Industries is considering laying charges under the Animal Welfare Act over alleged neglect at a leasehold farm in the Lake Brunner area.
An investigator who inspected the farm on August 28 found several cows dead and the rest of the 940-strong herd in "various stages of starvation".
Local veterinarians, a farm consultant and additional animal welfare officers assessed the cows.
They were found to be in such an emaciated state that they were unlikely to survive more than a few days.
An MPI veterinarian supervised the euthanisation of 150 cows and 30 calves. A further 60 cows were transported to the local freezing works.
There were concerns over the welfare of the 700 cows remaining at the farm, the MPI said.
It said alleged breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 had been carried out at the farm, though no charges had yet been laid.
Federated Farmers West Coast president Katie Milne said the organisation was assisting the MPI investigation.
She implicated financial problems in the failings at the Lake Brunner farm.
"The critical message we need to get out is whatever happens financially you are a farmer first. This is not the 1960's so be open to your family, your friends and your bank. Above all, be honest to yourself.
"Failing at a business does not mean you have failed as a farmer but failing your stock does."
The affected farmer should have reached out to Federated Farmers for support, Ms Milne said.
"You will find we all want to help so no one needs to be an island.
"I also need to make it clear that there is no way anyone can condone the maltreatment of livestock. Aside from an obvious and significant destruction of commercial value, it is ethically unacceptable."
- Herald OnlineBy Hayden Donnell Email Hayden