Investigators discover 22 dead dairy cattle on Racine farm - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Investigators discover 22 dead dairy cattle on Racine farm, rescue two still alive

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RACINE, Minn. (KTTC) -- Two men from the Racine area are under investigation for mistreatment of animals, after 22 dead dairy cattle were discovered in their barn.

Donald Sween and his son Michael Sween live at a dairy farm at 28544 760th Avenue southwest of Racine.  A man who used to do chores for the family, Dave Sivesind, said when he went to check on things he looked inside and all the animals were dead, apparently of starvation.

Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said a tip that the animals were in trouble came in to the Sheriff's Office during the blizzard back on February 20th.  She said county deputies could not get to it right away to check it out.

"When we found them, 22 were dead but two were still alive," said Sheriff Amazi.  "They were placed at another farm nearby that would take care of them." 

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Margaret Hart, said it was a field representative from a dairy plant who initially responded to check on a report of starving cattle and determined the Sweens were not actively milking their cows. 

"They had a permit, but it was not active," said Hart.  "They were not able to produce enough milk to be selling it." 

So the dairy plant field representative reported the animals' condition to the sheriff's department to let local officials handle the situation.

Sivesind said when he called the Mower County Sheriff's Office about his discovery in the barn, the sheriff already knew about it, and said the department was working with the State Ag Department on it.  He told KTTC NewsCenter on Thursday that the dead animals are still in the barn.

The case is now in the hands of the Mower County Attorney to consider charges.  Sheriff Amazi said she believes only one of the men might be charged with mistreatment of animals based on her knowledge of the circumstances.

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