Poultry farming ban for Essex farmer Paul Flatman after 6,000 chickens died of heat stress

Paul Flatman has been sentenced after more than 6,000 chickens died at Hawksmill Farm

Paul Flatman has been sentenced after more than 6,000 chickens died at Hawksmill Farm - Credit: Archant

A farmer has been ordered to pay more than £12,000 and has been given a suspended prison sentence for failing to follow animal welfare advice.

The investigation into Paul Flatman, aged 65, started after more than 6,000 chickens at his poultry farm in Essex died of heat exhaustion.

Flatman, trading as Paul Flatman Farms and of Packards Lane, Wormingford, was also banned from being involved in the poultry business for five years when he appeared for sentencing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court today.

He had already pleaded guilty to six charges under the Animal Welfare Act at an earlier appearance.

Essex Trading Standards began investigating Flatman after a high level of animal deaths was reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), a Defra agency.

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A vet attended Hawksmill Farm in Great Leighs on August 20, 2012 and found more than 6,000 chickens had died of heat stress.

The vet attributed the death of the birds to heat stroke due to the fact they were heavy, elderly birds too densely stocked in buildings that had inadequate ventilation.

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This situation was the result of a failure to heed animal welfare and good working practice advice provided by vets following previous incidents which had included the deaths from heat stress of 18,000 birds in 2011.

Councillor Roger Walters, Essex County Council lead member for Trading Standards, said: “This case shows that we will not tolerate livestock being kept in these kinds of conditions.”

Deborah Alexander, the investigating veterinary officer from APHA, said: “This tragic event resulted in many thousands of birds dying due to heat stress and could have been avoided.

“We are very grateful to Essex Trading Standards for the enforcement action they have taken in this case.”

Flatman was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison for each charge (to run concurrently), suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay prosecution costs of £12,444 and an £80 surcharge.

The district judge granted a disqualification order under section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act, which prevents Flatman from being involved in the poultry trade for five years.

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