Despair after prized bull slaughtered

By Amy McGillivray of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Fergus the bull is the latest of 33 Highland cattle to be killed on Barry Skokandich's Whakamarama farm.
Fergus the bull is the latest of 33 Highland cattle to be killed on Barry Skokandich's Whakamarama farm.

A Bay farmer's prize Highland breeding bull has been slaughtered despite its owner's best efforts to protect it.

The Bay of Plenty Times last week reported on the plight of Whakamarama farmer Barry Skokandich who had seen 31 of his Highland cattle killed on his 12ha property since 2007.

Since then 10-year-old Fergus, worth $50,000 to $100,000, and a 2-week-old calf have suffered the same fate.

A neighbour found Fergus dead in a paddock and told Mr Skokandich of the discovery late on Wednesday night.

Like most of the other animals, it appeared Fergus was killed by a blow to the head with a large hammer, Mr Skokandich said.

"I get upset," he said. "Fergus was a magnificent bull and his calves were beautiful."

Mr Skokandich last saw Fergus alive on the evening of August 5 and believes he was killed that night.

He reported the latest death to the police, who told him to get a vet to perform an autopsy on the animal.

Veterinarian Phil Rennie told the Bay of Plenty Times the post-mortem examination found evidence of an injury that could have been caused by a blunt object but he could not say conclusively whether that injury killed the animal.

As it had already been dead for two days, it was impossible to tell how badly the injury had damaged the brain, he said.

"On the left side of the face there was some abnormality. It was different to the right side. There were injuries that were consistent with something traumatic," he said. "It's not easy to kill an animal that size."

Mr Skokandich said there was nothing he could do to protect his animals unless he sat out with them all day and all night.

"I've tried to move them to the Waikato, I've tried to move them up the road. No matter who I've asked they wouldn't take them, they were scared."

Constable Cameron Price said police were investigating Fergus' death and waiting on the autopsy results.

Nutech Security business development manager Jolene Mackie said there was no simple solution but suggested a combination of security cameras and wireless gate alarms, which were activated when somebody passed through the laser beam.

"It should be a damn good deterrent," she said.

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