Was it cruel? Paper asks local vet

Diane Valden in The Columbia Paper attempts to see the point of view of Hillsdale farmers Jim Clapp, 76, his wife Ida, 74, and their son Charles, 49, who were each charged last week with 33 misdemeanor counts of failure to provide proper sustenance to some of their dairy animals by Columbia-Greene Humane Society investigators and Sheriff’s deputies. (They pled not guilty Wednesday.) While the Clapps are not talking, Valden did speak to local veterinarian George Beneke who was at the Clapps’ Sunny Mead farm when humane society officials visited:

“It’s complicated,” he said of the situation. The Clapps “have had it tougher than a lot of other farmers,” said Dr. Beneke, who has over 40 years of experience in the field. “They haven’t had any excess money for treatment and vaccinations, and I wished they had wormed them, but there was feed in front of those animals, though there was not money for grain,” he said. “Some of the animals looked very well and others looked very thin, but there are a lot of thin animals in the county right now, if you look closely,” Dr. Beneke said. “They were trying to do the best with the feed stuffs they had–haylage and corn silage–but some of it had spoiled. Though they tried to use only the best of it, it was very difficult.” Before the sale of the milking herd, the three of them were trying to take care of 175 head, which is more than they should have been doing, he said. The family hoped to make it through the winter, waiting for the spring grass so they could pasture the animals. The dead animals died of gangrene, mastitis, giving birth and scours–none of them died of starvation, the vet confirmed. “Their judgment could have been better,” says the vet who remained sympathetic to the difficulties the family faced. Still “it takes some source of income” to pay for an adequate parasite treatment and vaccination program, he said. Ron Perez, humane society president and investigator, agreed the “economic woes” of dairy farmers is a factor in the case, but he said that the Clapps are experienced dairy farmers and should have asked for help from the humane society and the local dairy community. Read the entire story in The Columbia Paper.

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