A livestock haulier in Dorset has been found guilty of causing 35 calves unnecessary suffering after he packed them into a trailer designed for sheep and transported them on a two-hour journey.

Weymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how haulier John Pritchard collected the group of calves from a farm near Sherborne in his double-deck livestock trailer, which had insufficient headroom on the lower deck for the animals to stand.

Pritchard then drove the calves for two hours to a slaughterhouse in Wiltshire. When he arrived the calves were unloaded and a member of staff noticed that the animals on the lower deck had injuries on their backs where they had bumped against the roof supports of the upper deck.

The court heard that some of these injuries were up to 10cm long and an examination of the carcasses after slaughter revealed deep bruising.

CCTV footage of the calves being unloaded also revealed that the ramp angle for the upper deck was far too steep for calves to safely walk down.

The haulier pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Health Act and he was given an 18 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £6,495 plus a £22 court surcharge – a total of £6,517.

Laura Beddow, portfolio holder for culture, communities and customer services at Dorset Council, which brought the prosecution, said: “All livestock transporters have a clear responsibility to ensure that whilst the animals are in their care they are protected from harm. Where there is evidence of unnecessary suffering we will intervene and consider formal enforcement action.”