Beccles: Farmer Michael Frost of Ringsfield Hall Farm is fined for cattle neglect

A SUFFOLK farmer was fined �1,500 after pleading guilty to neglecting his cattle.

Michael Frost, of Ringsfield near Beccles, appearing at Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court, admitted four offences of causing unnecessary suffering to his herd and failing to correctly identify more than half of them.

Suffolk Trading Standards said a veterinary surgeon from an abattoir in Norwich had raised the alarm with them last September. They said of the nine cattle Frost bought for slaughter three had ingrowing horns and five were identified as being older than the age declared on their passports.

Cattle identification rules were introduced following the outbreak of mad cow disease in the 1990s. Births, deaths and movements of cattle are now recorded to stop the potential for diseased meat entering the human food chain.

Trading standards officers later visited Ringsfield Hall Farm and discovered many other cattle did not appear to be correctly identified. The Rural Payments Agency then carried out a full inspection and found 33 of the 50 cattle found on the premises were not registered or identified correctly.

Councillor Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection at Suffolk County Council, said; “We takes all breaches of welfare and identification rules extremely seriously.

“We work closely with the Food Standards Authority, the Rural Payments Agency and the British Cattle Movement Service to ensure that meat traceability is easily achieved and that no livestock are subjected to unnecessary pain or distress.”

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In April trading standards chiefs in Suffolk said the economic downturn had sparked a rise in allegations of cattle neglect.

Officers said they have had up to 20 such reports over the last year –in a normal 12 months they would expect to get a couple at most.

Farming groups said cattle feed prices had soared by 30% over the last 18 months and warned if farmers continued to be squeezed more could end up cutting corners.

Anyone concerned about the welfare of farm animals in Suffolk should call 08456 040506.