Kent farmer jailed over 'atrocious' conditions

Farm owner Tracy Middleton feeds an orphaned lamb
Image caption Tracy Middleton accepted the farm was chaotic and badly managed, the court heard

A farmer who kept her animals in "atrocious" conditions has been sentenced to 120 days in jail.

Tracy Middleton, of Little Oakhurst Brissenden Farm, near Ashford, admitted 41 charges at Margate Magistrates' Court.

It followed the discovery of carcasses of sheep, lambs and cattle left out in her fields.

Judge Justin Barron said there had been a "prolonged period of ill treatment and neglect".

The court heard that RSPCA and Kent trading standards officials carried out a series of visits to Middleton's farm from 2018 to 2019 after being contacted by animal welfare activists.

Image caption Some sheep were losing their wool, while others were found stuck in deep mud

The cattle sheds had no dry area for the cows to lie down, the water troughs were almost empty and the mud was so deep that cows found it hard to move around, the hearing was told.

Animals had bald patches of skin, there was a dead calf in the mud and one calf was seen in the yard with bailing twine in its mouth.

On sentencing, Judge Barron said: "There was a complete breakdown of management on the farm, very poor animal husbandry, and significant suffering.

"You are responsible for ensuring their welfare and I'm afraid you just stuck your head in the sand and the effect of that was just chaos.

"They were in atrocious conditions."

Image copyright Kent Animal Defenders
Image caption Kent Animal Defenders rescued this sheep, stuck in the muddy conditions, but it later died

Many of the remaining animals have now been moved or sold, and a local farmer has now leased the farm.

Middleton has also been banned from keeping any animals for 10 years, except for her cat and two dogs.

She told the court that she accepted there had been "chaotic management" of the farm.

She said she had been overwhelmed at the time and was going through a traumatic time in her life.

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