December 13, 1913.
A case of the utmost importance has just come before the High Court, with a result which can hardly be too widely made known.
A farmer in the neighbourhood of Banbury was charged with cruelty to a cow by overstocking her for market, and the evidence plainly showed that it was a bad case.
The cow was driven to market in such a state of pain that she could scarcely walk, and the udder was so distended that the milk dripped from the teats, the calf with her being muzzled.
No attempt was made to deny the suffering, but it was defended as being the general practice, and necessary to the proper sale of the cow. The magistrates accepted the excuse as valid and dismissed the charge of cruelty. Thereupon an appeal was made to the High Court, and the judges agreed that the defence was bad and returned the case with an order to convict.
Very great importance attaches to this affair because the decision of the court will affect a multitude of similar cases which are constantly happening in many of our markets. The prosecuting authorities will now know where they stand, and farmers and dealers who have been in the habit of overstocking cows should take warning before they find themselves within the clutches of the law.
It is not that such persons are often wilfully and deliberately cruel, but they are culpably careless, and think of nothing but how to obtain a commercial advantage. The law is clearly laid down.