A hobby farmer who sold his neighbour's cattle after they had been grazing on his property over two years has appeared before court.
The 60-year-old sold the nine heavily pregnant Angus cows and nine six-month-old calves at the Yass saleyards on June 6 and kept a portion of the proceeds to make up for the pastures he lost.
It was the farmer's decision to take the matter into his own hands that put him before Yass Local Court on July 12, where he pleaded guilty to failing to take an impounded animal to the pound.
In court, his solicitor argued his client was an "inexperienced" farmer, visiting his 200-acre property at Wallaroo in the Yass Valley only once a fortnight.
He lived and worked in Sydney as a plumber the rest of the time, the solicitor said.
The issue began in 2016, when there were six cows grazing on the hobby farmer's property, according to the police facts tendered in court.
That number grew to nine in 2017, and even more when the cattle began having calves on his property.
The farmer was unable to work out who the cattle belonged to, and concerned about them eating a large portion of his pastures.
So in late May this year, the hobby farmer called a livestock agent who, he said, advised him to send the cattle to the saleyard.
It would be there, the agent allegedly said, that the cattle owner would be found by scanning their electronic ear tags.
The farmer organised for the head of 18 cattle to go to the Yass saleyard on June 6.
The sale wasn't picked up until a later date, when the actual owner received an email from the regulators saying his cattle had been sold with a different reference number to his Property Identification Code (PIC).
It was then that the actual cattle owner contacted police.
In court, the hobby farmer's solicitor said his client was concerned about his pastures in the drought.
But Magistrate Douglass disagreed, saying it was "not a hard thing to find out [who owns them] if they're tagged".
"You can get scanners," Magistrate Douglass said.
The solicitor said English wasn't her client's first language, which "didn't help".
Magistrate Douglass also said the hobby farmer should take better care of his property.
"You've got a big property, you've got responsibilities," Magistrate Douglass said.
Magistrate Douglass issued a Section 10 dismissal of the charge.
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