Terence Smith was fined pounds 5,000 and ordered to pay pounds 15,000 costs by magistrates at Lyndhurst in Hampshire. It is the first time a British fur factory farmer has been prosecuted for cruelty.
Oba Nsugbe, for the prosecution, told magistrates that members of the group Respect for Animals had carried out a three-month investigation into conditions at Crow Hill Top Farm near Burley in Hampshire, between September and November 1997.
They passed their evidence, which included video footage and photographs, to the RSPCA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who brought the case to court.
Mr Nsugbe said animal welfare officers from Hampshire County Council had been sent to the farm which was very dilapidated. "Blocked drains were overflowing with maggots and faeces and on that occasion they did see a number of injured mink," he said
The court heard that some of the animals were so badly hurt that bones were protruding from infected wounds and others had to be put down.
Last July a group of unidentified animal activists released 6,000 of the farm's mink into the wild, causing mass hysteria among the local population and fears of an ecological disaster.
Robert Grey, for the defence, said the problems had begun after the farm was attacked. The damage to the cages meant the mink could attack each other and it was impossible to tell which family group they belonged to.
Smith, who trades under the name of TT Smith (Mink) Ltd, refused to comment.
Lucy Clark, of the RSPCA, said the charity was pleased about the conviction but disappointed that Smith had not been banned from keeping mink in the future.Reuse content