2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Friday, August 13, 2010

Saskatchewan farmer convicted for offering a stray animal for sale

On inspecting cattle delivered by the accused, Douglas Lamb, to the Spiritwood stockyards on January 19, 2010, Brand Inspector Kenneth Wasden noticed that one calf was of a different colour, had a different ear tag, and a brand on the left rib. The brand could not be clearly identified before clipping the hair covering it, but was noticeable because the hair covering it was of a lighter colour. The animal was black with a black and white spotted face, referred to as “brockle face”. Wasden had noticed the brand from six to eight feet away. The ear tag was hand printed with a letter and numbers, whereas the other cattle had factory printed ear tags with numbers only. Both types of ear tag were yellow in colour. 

The animal appeared to be stunted, which he attributed to lack of nourishment from early weaning and its hair was rougher. If born in the spring, it should have weighed between 600 and 800 pounds, rather than 450.  The other 20 cattle delivered by the accused were exotic cross-breeds (Simmental and Charolais) and were larger, heavier animals. None of the others were black in colour. The calf in question was a Black Angus cross. The body condition was similar to that of the others, but it was smaller in size.

Richard Williams is a large cattle rancher from Alberta, but brings some cattle to Saskatchewan to pasture in the summer. He brought between 230 and 240 head of cattle to the Rabbit Lake pasture in 2009. He recalled a fence being down between his pasture and that of the accused, which he repaired. When the cattle were transported back to Alberta in the fall, there was one calf missing. Williams identified the calf’s brand and the type of hand lettered ear tag as his, and the black brockle face calf as a product of his cross-breeding Herefords and Black Angus, born in the spring of 2009.

In the eyes of the Court, the Crown proved on this evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused offered a stray animal for sale in violation of the Stray Animals Act. As the charge is a strict liability offence, the defence of due diligence would apply if the accused could prove on a balance of probabilities that he took all due care.  Due care is simply what a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances. The accused must have taken all reasonable steps to avoid the event in order to show that he was not negligent.

The Court disbelieved Lamb's evidence about what he knew and didn't know about the calf in question, and found that he had not taken reasonable steps to avoid committing the offence.  To not recognize your own calves in such a small herd alone shows lack of a reasonable standard of care, in the judge's opinion. In addition, failing to notice a bawling, orphaned calf, and failing to observe an obvious brand also shows lack of due diligence. The accused should have been checking his animals carefully enough and been familiar enough with them to have detected this stray calf among them.

Read the full decision at: R. v. Lamb.