Armidale Regional Council has asked the RSPCA to review its animal management practices after the death of 18 cattle on council-owned land over the new year break.
However, while the RSPCA confirmed the contact, it was made clear that such assistance would not be immediately forthcoming, not until it was satisfied with the facts.
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA has said her organisation was unwilling to make any further comment about the incident until its officers completed their investigations.
Armidale Regional Council chief executive officer Susan Law said council officers had immediately attended the site when council was alerted to a dead steer along the property boundary by an adjoining neighbour on Sunday, January 6.
Further inspection of the herd revealed more animals in distress and a dry water trough with its tap off.
Mrs Law said council contacted its vet as soon as possible, on Monday, January 7, and council staff were onsite daily managing the distressed cattle and slowly re-hydrating them.
Unfortunately a number of steers had to be euthanased; decisions not taken lightly and made in the best interest of the animal.
It is important that Council works with the RSPCASusan Law
“This incident has been very distressing for all of us at council, and in particular those staff involved in the management of the herd as well as to members of the community,” she said.
“Council has managed large cattle herds at our Waste Water Treatment Plant and Reuse Farm, as well as on land owned by council for many years without incident. Our staff are extremely competent in cattle management and take animal welfare extremely seriously.
“In discussing the death of the cattle with the RSPCA, we were left confident that council did everything it could in managing the welfare of the sick and dying cattle."
Mrs Law said it was imperative council now did everything to ensure that this did not happen again.
“Unfortunately there is a possibility that someone may have tampered with the tap,” she said.
"Council staff have now secured the tap on the trough system to ensure that it cannot be turned off.
Rural Crime Squad police will investigate the incident and council was assisted by a veterinarian to assess the cause of death of the animals.