A farmer fined $500 and ordered to pay $500 in cost for mistreatment of a cow filmed suspended from a "hip clamp" is a step in the right direction, animal advocacy organisations say.

The sentencing was on February 7 in the Hamilton District Court.

"Judge Otene, after considering the parties' written and oral submissions, convicted the defendant and fined him $500 and ordered him to pay $500 towards the cost of the prosecution," a Ministry of Primary Industries spokeswoman said.

She said the payment was a contribution to witness costs, predominantly the expert witness costs.


Farmwatch and SAFE released a video in 2015 showing a cow being suspended from a tractor until its front legs collapse with its dead calf lying metres away on a Waikato farm.

The footage then showed a man arriving at the tractor and dragging the cow along the ground with the tractor.

In a statement, the organisations said the conviction sent a message that cruel treatment of animals will not be tolerated.

It is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done to prevent cruelty happening.

"We are pleased to see the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) taking these cruelty cases seriously," said Farmwatch spokesman John Darroch.

"However, prosecutions only go so far and act as a minimal deterrent. More time, effort and funds need to be put into preventing cruelty to vulnerable animals in the first place."

According to the organisation's statement, the farmer was convicted, fined and ordered to pay costs towards the prosecution.

The use of hip clamps to support a cow that is unable to stand is legal, but the treatment of the cow in this case was found to contravene the law.

Farmwatch had also previously released footage showing apparent mistreatment of bobby calves.

Two workers at Down Cow Ltd slaughterhouse were charged for severe mistreatment of calves.

Last May, a farmer was convicted of cruelty for dragging a newborn calf by the hind leg along the ground for 40 metres.

"It should not be up to volunteers and non-profits to expose issues of animal cruelty," said SAFE campaigns director Mandy Carter. "SAFE is concerned that there are likely many more animals suffering."

SAFE is urging the new Government to have an independent animal welfare body, separate to MPI, to monitor and enforce animal welfare.