Pieter Nicholaas Smit

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Pieter Nicholaas Smit

Published on stuff.co.nz on 28/06/2021


A dairy farmer has been fined $3250 for unlawfully amputating the teats of seven cows.

Pieter Nicholaas Smit, 60, has been sentenced at the Morrinsville District Court after he pleaded guilty to an animal welfare charge.

The case involved seven cows over five years and was taken to court by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI said Smit admitted using rubber rings to amputate teats when mastitis did not clear up after treatment with antibiotics.

Massey professor Richard Laven, who lectures on production animal health, said the method was inhumane and if amputation was required it should have been performed by a veterinarian, using anaesthetic.

Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the udder. It can damage the tissue to the point the cow is no longer able to release milk from the teat.

If left untreated, it can lead to toxins entering the cow’s system, severe pain and even death.

MPI Animal Welfare compliance manager Brendon Mikkelsen said Smit failed to provide appropriate care to the animals.

“Teat removal is a significant surgical procedure. It should be undertaken by a veterinarian using anaesthesia.”

An animal welfare inspector visited Smit’s Waiuku property on May 20 last year after a complaint was made.

Laven said the reason for putting the rubber ring around an affected teat was to cause it to fall off, allowing the affected gland to drain.

He said the issue with this method was that it took 10 to 14 days for the teat to fall off, during which the cow experiences persistent pain as nerves in the teat are compressed.

“The tissue dies slowly, and it causes pain the entire time it’s on. It’s a dull throbbing pain,” he said.

“We have laws in New Zealand stopping farmers causing unnecessary pain or distress.”