A smallholder has been banned from keeping farm animals after neglecting his livestock.

Clifford Mitchell, 48, from Ludgvan, Penzance, was banned from keeping or owning farm animals for 10 years as well as being fined £400 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000 in fines and pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £40, following a prosecution brought by Cornwall Council.

On 20 January 2021 and 14 June 2021, officers from Cornwall Council’s Animal Health Team and a vet from DEFRA visited the farm.

They discovered most of the animals on the farm were kept in unacceptable conditions.

Mr Mitchell appeared at Truro Magistrates’ Court on 22 September 2021 and pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • Failing to provide cattle with a suitable diet and dry lying
  • Failing to protect cattle and poultry from dangerous objects
  • Failing to provide clean water, food, or bedding to poultry.
  • Failing to tag a calf within 20 days of birth
  • Failing to remove poultry carcasses

Kingsley Keat, prosecuting on behalf of Cornwall Council, told the court that the land was overstocked, with no grass available for the cattle even in June, and no supplementary feed.

South West Farmer: Cattle at Clifford Mitchell's smallholding in Ludgvan, PenzanceCattle at Clifford Mitchell's smallholding in Ludgvan, Penzance

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The court heard the cattle were in poor body condition and two bulls were left to run with the herd so there was no attempt to control the numbers.

Some of the calves where not tagged, the fencing was poor and the cattle had access to lots of scrap.

Mr Keat added that most of the poultry had no dry litter, no water, no food and had access to scrap.

Some of the poultry were shut in darkness and couldn’t fully stand up in their hutches.

In mitigation, it was said in court that the defendant had been struggling following the death of his business partner and mother.

He was overwhelmed with all the work and struggled to make progress due to Covid restrictions.

The chairman of the bench said Mr Mitchell was not capable of looking after his animals and that the case showed prolonged neglect to the animals.

Jane Tomlinson, the Head of Trading Standards for Cornwall Council, said: "Mr Mitchell has shown he is not able to manage the care of his animals, even after considerable advice from both DEFRA and the Council."

Councillor Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change said: "Where officers find non-compliance or a complete disregard for farm animal welfare, the Council will take formal action to protect animals and the reputation of the Cornish farming industry."