A farmer from Northern Ireland has been sentenced at Ballymena Court for transporting a cow unfit for travel, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has said.

William Ronald Armstrong, aged 63, from Gorey Road, Cabragh, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, was also convicted for transporting animals without an authorisation from the competent authority.

Armstrong had previously pleaded guilty and received a 200-hour community service order.

The case arose when a DAERA official vet at an abattoir examined a cow presented by Armstrong.

On inspection, the official vet said the animal was "extremely emaciated and showed signs of weakness".

The court heard the animal was unfit to be transported and was subjected to unnecessary and avoidable risk of injury during its transport to the abattoir, in the opinion of the vet.

Vigorous policy

DAERA said it "gives high priority to the welfare of animals and operates a vigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements. Any breaches are investigated thoroughly and offenders prosecuted as necessary".

The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Regulations (NI) 2006 also requires that animals must be fit to travel and must be cared for if they fall ill or are injured during transport.

"The animals must be accompanied by competent persons and must be transported to their destinations without undue delay. All those who have animals in their care either on farm, in transit or at slaughter have a duty of care to look after that animal’s welfare," it said.