A Saskatchewan farmer will pay more than $28,600 after 27 cattle died under his watch.
Darren Shindle, from the Dysart area north of Regina, was watching 89 cows for another farmer, Lyle Davis, in 2014 .
In the agreement, crafted on Davis’ kitchen table in October 2013, Shindle agreed to look after the cows so Davis could recover from hip replacement surgery.
Sometime under Shindle’s watch, 27 cattle died. He claimed the cows wandered onto ice, broke through and drowned.
On April 5, 2018, Saskatchewan Justice Meghan McCreary ruled Shindle failed to reasonably care for the cows.
During court, Shindle argued over a clause in the contract he interpreted to mean he wasn’t liable to pay damages for the deaths of the cows.
According to the original agreement: “In the event that a cow or calf dies, then no replacement is required, and no responsibility will be brought to bear on either party.”
While Shindle said this applied to if any cattle died, Davis countered it applied to only a single cow — which represents the average mortality rate among 100 cows.
McCreary agreed with Davis in her ruling, writing “The phrase ‘a cow or calf’ in the agreement means, as it means in ordinary usage, a single animal.”
The justice also noted that since Shindle could not say specifically when the cows died, he was not monitoring or caring for the cattle daily.