DISEASED sheep in a Newbury field could have entered the food chain after a farmer flouted mad cow disease prevention rules, town magistrates heard.
Residents who investigated strange noises and awful smells coming from the field were horrified to discover rotting carcasses and diseased animals.
The neglected sheep, on land at Enborne Row, Wash Water, were parched and had wounds infested with maggots, the court heard on Thursday, June 18.
Laura Knowles, prosecuting on behalf of West Berkshire Council’s trading standards department, said that regulations aimed at preventing bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease, and foot and mouth disease, had been flaunted by their owner, Martin Gerald Alderman.
She said a local resident, identified only as Mr Dixon, became concerned about the noises the sheep were making, and a bad smell coming from the field.
Upon investigating he and another resident discovered a number of unburied carcasses in the field. Some of the sheep were limping and one was unable to rise from its knees.
Ms Knowles said there were rams with ulcerated wounds infested with maggots and the lambs had not been shorn this year at all.
There were two water troughs in the field but both were empty, said Ms Knowles.
She added: “Mr Dixon provided them with water and they just drank and drank.”
Mr Dixon alerted a vet who treated the animals and reported their condition to West Berkshire Council’s trading standards department, magistrates were told.
Ms Knowles said: “The potential for suffering would have been even greater had it not been for Mr Dixon, a concerned neighbour.”
Mr Alderman, whose mother lives near the field, said he had intended to sell some of the flock for meat and had been farming at the site for eight years.
The 42-year-old, of Lower Farm Cottages, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, admitted three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two charges of failing to comply with an animal byproduct requirement, all on September 6 last year.
He has no previous convictions and Adonis Daniel, defending, said: “He was experiencing some personal problems and took his eye off the ball.
“When the seriousness of the situation was made known to him, he rectified it immediately.”
After reading pre-sentence reports, magistrates made Mr Alderman subject to a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid community requirement.
In addition he was required to pay a statutory surcharge of £60 plus £500 costs.