A Co Galway farmer has pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences, described by a judge as "shocking and beyond belief".

Enda Mulleady, from Ballinamore Bridge, Ballinasloe has been charged with four offences, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act.

Ballinasloe District Court heard that the defendant is accused of endangering the health of "a large number of calves" on his farm and of failing to properly dispose of the carcasses of "around 200 calves".

Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector Eamon Clarke told the court that a complaint was made about dead animals on the Mr Mulleady's property, last spring.

Following an inspection, he found dead calves both at the back of Mr Mulleady’s house and in a shed. Photos were produced showing dead calves in the same shed as some live animals.

'Fairly worthless' calves

According to Mr Clarke, the defendant had purchased what were described as "fairly worthless" calves, some for as little as €5.

Mr Mulleady told the veterinary inspector that he owed money to a knackery and they were not willing to remove the animal carcasses. Following the intervention of another veterinary inspector, they eventually agreed to do so.

Prosecuting counsel Helen Johnson asked that the court direct that the farmer not be allowed to keep calves on his property that were under 12 weeks old.

Defending solicitor Gearoid Geraghty said his client had kept calves between around two and seven weeks old, but that pneumonia had spread through the herd and this had caused the premature deaths.

However, the court was told by the prosecution that the defendant did not seek veterinary help when the problem arose.

'Something seriously wrong'

Judge James Faughnan said that there was something seriously wrong with a farmer allowing such a situation to happen and said it merited a prison sentence.

He said that he would not be happy to even allow Mr Mulleady look after 12-week-old calves, given what he had heard in evidence.

Judge Faughnan said that the pictures were among the worst he had ever seen and described the offences as being "shocking and beyond belief".

The case was adjourned to a sitting of Ballinasloe Court in January, to allow for a psychological report to be prepared on the defendant.