APPALLED council officers discovered more than 25 dead sheep in a Dorset field – just a year after their owner was given advice on treating the animals better.

Sheep farmer Karen Harper, of Charlton Marshall near Blandford, failed to properly care for the animals. When they died, she allowed their carcasses to rot on her land.

Inspectors for Dorset Council made the discovery on a visit to the land Affpuddle, Purbeck in December 2018.

This week, Harper was sentenced to a community order at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court after admitting nine offences under animal health and welfare legislation during an earlier appearance at the court.

Magistrates heard a Trading Standards officer found more than 25 dead sheep during an inspection. Many of the remaining 75 sheep were “very thin” and had “little grass to eat and no additional feed”, it was heard.

The sheep were later examined by a veterinary officer from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) who found 54 to be unacceptably thin and one sheep so thin and weak it had to be put to sleep.

In addition, 43 of the sheep hadn’t been ear-tagged, which is a legal requirement to provide traceability of livestock.

Harper received a formal caution from trading standards for similar offences in 2017 but failed to follow the advice on caring for her animals given at that time, it was heard.

The defendant has now been ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.

She must also pay £2,278 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £85.

Councillor Anthony Alford of Dorset Council said: “Our Trading Standards team work with farmers and other livestock keepers to improve the welfare of their animals but where advice is ignored formal action is considered.

“All livestock keepers have a clear responsibility to ensure conditions they keep animals in, and the care they are given, is adequate and does not cause unnecessary suffering to those animals.”