A LLANELLI councillor has been told to pay out a total of £11,365 after pleading guilty to three charges relating to her failure to look after a flock of sheep correctly and disposing of a carcass.
Sian Caiach, of Parc Farm, Trimsaran, a 55-year-old mother-of-four changed her pleas to guilty to two charges under the animal welfare act and one relating to a section of the European communities act's animal by-products section.
Swansea magistrates heard how a Carmarthenshire Health Officer and a vet paid a visit to Caiach following "a phone call from a member of the public" on two separate occasions last summer.
They discovered that some sheep had a condition known as blow fly which could lead to death if not treated. Another animal was found to be lame and a carcass was discovered laying in the field.
Caiach, who is a Carmarthenshire councillor, has two fields of 40 acres each in which she had kept a flock of rare breed sheep for around 15 years. Prosecutor Lucy Crowther told the court how a number of animals appeared affected by blow fly and were infected with maggots before she accused Caiach of failing to inspect her flock properly.
She said: "Somebody who looks after these animals would know signs of distress. Not simply looking in from the gate but walking among them and making checks.
She added: "It is the evidence that the carcass must have been there for at least eight weeks, 50 metres from the main gate, if regular checks had been made it would have been seen."
The inspectors also discovered a lame lamb. Ms Crowther said: "He could barely walk and was showing signs of distress and suffering."
The court was told how Caiach had said that the lamb was a pet and had been born lame.
In mitigation, Simon Worlock said that there was no way of knowing how the carcass had ended up in the field or how the animal had died.
He said: "We don't have a forensic expert here to say how old the skeleton is."
He added that the carcass may be been carried into the field by a fox.
"It's a big field, 40 acres and all around the edges are brambles. The reeds are probably two feet high. The carcass could have come from anywhere."
Of the blow fly, or fly strike as he referred to it, he added: "It was said that she missed the fly strike. It can happen remarkably quickly. Fly strike is the common blue bottle, almost all sheep suffer from fly strike. It's well known. There are over 500,000 cases in the UK annually.
"Last year was the worst summer on record and conditions for fly strike became endemic."
It was also said that Caiach had been away helping her mother celebrate her 80th birthday around the time and had arranged for a friend and her daughter to check the flock.
Caiach was also criticised for not having the sheep sheared, but Mr Worlock pointed out: "The shearer was due to come out but at that stage he didn't because there was a queue.
"There is a classic shortage of shearers."
Of the lame lamb he also pointed out: "This is a hobby which she takes extremely seriously, she doesn't make any money out of it."
In handing out the sentence, chairman of the bench Mike Bradshaw told Sian Caiach: "Although you pleaded guilt you did so on the door of the trial when witnesses had been lined up. We have given you some credit but only 10 per cent.
"You were sent letters, received visits and offered advice and guidance.
"You clearly failed to fulfil your duties which allowed these animals to become infected and lame which must have caused them distress. Being an experienced sheep farmer you were well aware of your obligations."
Caiach was fined a total of £1,365 and also told to pay prosecution costs of £10,000.