Tjeerd Visser, 24, was sentenced in Christchurch District Court to 350 hours’ community service after pleading guilty to two charges of animal cruelty dating back to August last year.

The court was told Visser, a manager at a Lake Brunner farm, was in charge of the animals and had an obligation to ensure they were fed at a level to ensure their health and well-being.

After a complaint from a member of the public, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigators visited the farm and found 60 cattle dead or dying. None could be saved.

The rest of the dairy herd were in very poor condition with little or no feed.

MPI regional compliance manager John Slaughter said 1300 other cattle were found in varying conditions, 65 needed to be euthanised.

Mr Slaughter said a number of significant factors led to the offending, including overstocking, poor infrastructure and boggy grazing areas around natural water supplies.

MPI also found the farm had failed to provide extra food for pregnant cows.

“While it is distressing to encounter such poor farming practices that inevitably led to this offending, MPI is satisfied with the sentence delivered by the court today,” Mr Slaughter said.