Howgate farmer pleads guilty to sheep assault

William Brown of Herbertshaw Farm was secretly filmed punching sheep.William Brown of Herbertshaw Farm was secretly filmed punching sheep.
William Brown of Herbertshaw Farm was secretly filmed punching sheep.
For the first time ever, a Scottish wool farmer has today pleaded guilty after being caught engaged in acts of cruelty to sheep.

The criminal charges against the farmer, William Brown (59), were the result of a formal complaint and video evidence that PETA submitted to the Scottish SPCA, after an eyewitness saw him viciously punch sheep in the face on his farm near Howgate in 2018.

Brown admitted to violently punching two male sheep at Herbertshaw Farm causing unnecessary suffering under Section 19 (1) of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. He has been handed a £550 fine following a Scottish SPCA investigation.

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Scottish SPCA chief inspector John Chisholm said, “We were alerted to the incident by PETA who passed on the video of Brown striking the animals.

“We’re pleased Brown has admitted the offence.

“This is a serious case of animal cruelty by an experienced farmer. He will be fully aware that sheep experience fear and can perceive humans as a threat.

“Violently lashing out at the sheep will spread fear amongst the rest of the flock.

“We would expect anyone involved in the rearing of livestock for commercial purposes to have the highest standards of welfare and treatment.

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“We are disappointed that Brown wasn’t banned from owning or working with animals but we hope this will serve as a warning that this behaviour is unacceptable and we will fully investigate any reports of cruelty towards livestock.

“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss welfare practice with the wider industry.”

“While today was a victory for animals, this kind of abuse occurs every single day in the wool industry,” said PETA Senior Vice President of International Campaigns Jason Baker.

“When it comes to wool, the only truly animal-friendly choice shoppers can make is to refuse to buy or wear it.”

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