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Farmer not charged after half his herd died

ELLSWORTH, Wis. - The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said Monday a case will not be referred to the district attorney's office for charges after investigation found nearly 25 cows died over a seven-month period.

The sheriff's department was first notified Tuesday afternoon about the case at N5078 430th St., Ellsworth, Wis. The complainant, Steven Hines, stated he called because he was concerned about the condition of the cattle he had seen outside. Hines, who used to own the farm, said he saw at least two cows that appeared to be dead, along with a lot of manure inside the barn.

Contact was made with the renter, Aaron Fagerland, who allowed sheriff's deputies to look inside the barn. According to their reports, Fagerland explained he was having a lot of problems with his herd health and couldn't figure out why. He also stated the barn cleaner chain recently broke and he hasn't been able to fix it, resulting in the manure.

Deputies noticed three dead cows inside the barn, with one more being close to death. Fagerland told deputies he's going to have the barn cleaned and the carcasses removed in a couple of days. He also said he's going to sell all of the cattle next week because he "couldn't deal with all of these issues anymore."

Fagerland explained the issues further. He said a veterinarian from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture was out recently to the farm and said the cows had some sort of mineral deficiency. Fagerland was instructed to supplement the cows' diets with salt and mineral blocks, which he said he has done, but they are still dying. He added he has been raising milk cows for years and has other cows at other farms that were thriving and producing, and has never had a situation like this before.

For more please read the Jan. 20 print version of the Herald.