A Shropshire farmer has been sentenced for causing unnecessary harm to his poultry following an investigation by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Shropshire Trading Standards.

Paul Hotchkiss of Gilberries Hall Farm was given a Community Punishment Oder of 100 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay costs totalling £5,877.18 at Telford Magistrates Court.

His case began in 2021 when the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported on chickens with severe pododermatitis (dermatitis of the foot pads) in 90-100% of birds on arrival at a slaughterhouse. 

Pododermatitis causes inflammation and necrotic lesions primarily to the bottom of chickens’ feet.

The APHA said its inspectors and Shropshire Trading standards visited the farm and despite advice from both APHA and the private vet, there was limited improvement in subsequent flocks of birds.

Farm investigations and an export report were provided to the court, which heard Hotchkiss plea guilty to the charges.

Commenting on the case, Aled Edwards, head of Field Delivery England, APHA said:

“APHA takes potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and investigates all allegations.

“This case demonstrates our robust enforcement approach and the effective collaboration between ourselves and local authorities.

“I welcome this sentence from the court and hope it will act as a reminder to others, that animal welfare is of paramount importance.”