Oxfordshire farmer fined for leaving sheep carcasses to rot on his land

A farmer from Bletchingdon has been ordered to pay over £1,200 in fines and costs, after Oxfordshire trading standards officers found five dead sheep rotting on his land.

At the hearing on 16 May 2017 at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, James Edward Hedges, from E C Hedges and Sons, pleaded guilty to three offences of failing to dispose of animal remains appropriately and failing to keep details of animal disposals and medical records. Mr Hedges, 54, of Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, was ordered to pay over £1,200 in fines and costs.

On 12 September 2016, officers from Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and a senior vet from the Animal and Plant Health Agency discovered five sheep carcasses in various states of decay during a visit to fields at Wolvercote, where Mr Hedges kept livestock.

Poor records

When questioned by officers during their visit, Mr Hedges also failed to produce records showing how animal products not destined for the food chain, such as fallen stock, was appropriately dealt with, a requirement of the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013.

In addition to failing to show proper controls regarding animal by-products, Mr Hedges was also unable to produce records relating to the administration of veterinary medicines, detailing what animals had received which medication and on which date, contrary to the Veterinary Medicine Regulations 2013.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Operations Manager said:

“The controls on animal by-products are in place for very important reasons. Uncontrolled animal by-products can present a risk to both human and animal health and the legislation is there to safeguard the food chain and to prevent the spread of animal diseases. Fallen stock should be safely and suitably handled, with measures taken, without undue delay, to stop other animals and wild birds having access to it.

He continued: “Equally, whilst the use of veterinary medicines can be essential in preventing and treating disease, livestock owners have a duty to record such usage details, to ensure that animal products, such as meat and milk, are free from medicine residue, at the time it enters the food chain. Without appropriate record keeping, it is impossible to evidence when this is safe to do so.”