Farmer left 350 animals to starve to death on his land over five months

John Ferguson left animals to starve to death on his 700-acre farm in Perthshire.

Perth Sheriff Court.

A wealthy landowner who left more than 350 sheep and cows to starve to death on his farm has been banned from keeping animals for life.

John Ferguson, who owns a string of garages, a nightclub and a multi-million pounds wind farm operation was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

Ferguson left the animals to starve to death on the 700-acre farm and Scottish SPCA inspectors found a scene of unparalleled carnage on his land.

The catalogue of horror, which was discovered after an anonymous tip-off, included the skeletal remains of 340 sheep and 14 cows.

Perth Sheriff Court was told on Wednesday that two thirds of the surviving herd of cattle were "extremely emaciated".

One cow had died giving birth and had been left with her dead calf's leg protruding.

Fiscal depute Catherine Fraser said: "On February 23, 2012, the SSPCA received an anonymous letter of complaint in respect of the farm.

"The farm inspection went ahead on February 28 and 29, during which time the extent of mismanagement at the farm was discovered.

"The farm had over 1120 sheep and a herd of 150 cattle. Many were emaciated. In some of the fields there was no access for the animals to shelter from adverse conditions.

"There was little to no grazing across the farm. Across the farm, there were numerous animal carcasses in various states of decomposition. Those animals that had recently died were emaciated.

"Rings of wool were observed on fields where sheep carcasses had lain. In total, 340 sheep and 14 cow carcasses were removed to the knacker's yard.

"In a number of fields cattle in very poor condition were observed. The skeletons of the beasts were clearly visible. In Scotland a scoring system between one and five is used to assess the body condition of animals.

"Animals that score one are considered to be extremely emaciated. These cattle had a condition score between 0.5 and 1.5.

"The carcass of an emaciated cow was found on the hill. It was evident the cow had died in the course of childbirth.

"Since September 2011, the accused had been attempting to manage the farm single-handedly alongside his other business commitments.

"He admitted he had not seen some of the animals that were found in the worst condition for two weeks prior to the inspection."

The 50-year-old farmer and businessman left the dead animals on land at Welton of Creuchies farm in Alyth over a five-month spell last winter.

He admitted two charges relating to the unnecessary suffering of beasts on his farm estate.

The farmer, who has a herd of 1120 sheep, failed to provide a suitable environment for his livestock between October 1 last year and February 23 this year.

Counsel Mark Stewart QC, defending, said: "This has had a dramatic effect on his personal, family and social life and is something that will not be forgotten in the farming community.

"He does run other successful businesses and this has been a catastrophic event in his life. It was a catastrophic failure."

He told the court Ferguson had suffered a "minor breakdown".

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said Ferguson's guilty plea meant the maximum sentence of 12 months would immediately be cut by a quarter, but in practical terms would amount to little more than two months in prison.

He imposed the maximum 300 hours unpaid work as a direct alternative to a prison term and banned Ferguson for life from keeping or dealing with animals.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.


Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.