A New Zealand court convicted two farmers on an animal cruelty charge Tuesday for impaling a live cow with a tractor's fork.
The two North Island men had shot an ailing Hereford cross cow last year to slaughter it and told authorities they thought it already was dead when they speared it with the tractor. But a policeman later noticed that the animal was still alive, and it was able to stagger away when released from the tractor fork.
Farm owner Ronald Frew and farm manager Geoffrey Donald, both 43, were found guilty in Taihape District Court of ill-treating a cow, Radio New Zealand reported.
Judge Gerard Lynch said the two men had failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the animal was dead before it was impaled, and imposed fines of 750 New Zealand dollars ($528) for each man. The pair were cleared of the more serious charge of willfully ill-treating the cow.
Frew told the court that he asked Donald to slaughter the sick cow and that the farm manager had shot the animal in the side of the head, the radio report said.
Frew said he thought the animal was dead when he arrived later with the tractor and impaled it below its spine before driving about 100 yards (meters) toward a highway with the animal hanging on the fork.
Frew told the court he did not realize the cow was still alive until the police officer told him its head was upright.
He said he was horrified when he removed the cow from the fork and that the distressed animal staggered away to join a herd of cattle nearby. The farmer eventually killed the badly injured animal.