The banning of a dairy farmer from owning cows after he was convicted of breaking the animal's tails has been applauded by animal support groups.

In the worst case of its kind animal welfare authorities had ever seen, West Coast farmer Michael Jackson, 43, admitted breaking or injuring 230 cows tails trying to usher them into his milking shed.

At Christchurch District Court this week he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, ordered to pay reparation of $223 for veterinary costs and was banned from owning cows for five years.

Federated Farmers, industry body DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association said the action sent a strong message to people who mistreat animals.


Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president ays Katie Milne described the crime as "despicable''.

"There is absolutely no way this action can be defended.

"Animal cruelty has no place in farming or in society and the penalty imposed helps to underline that,' she said.

Science showed stressed cows produce significantly less milk than contented cows and become harder to handle, said Ms Milne.

DairyNZ team leader Nita Harding encouraged farmers to access resources and attend the events to get advice about handling cows and making routine farm procedures less stressful for animals and staff.

"This ultimately leads to more content cows, happier staff and higher milk production.''

Farmers wanting support can contact DairyNZ 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969).