ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A herd of cattle has been seized from a small Albuquerque property in an animal cruelty case.
The New Mexico Livestock Board said it's not something they see everyday: 43 head of cattle crammed onto just half an acre with little food and no water.
Livestock officials said once they seized the cattle, several of the animals died of disease. Now, they're waiting to see what to do with the animals that survived.
Livestock Board officials said it started with complaints about a property on Second Street NW.
Inspectors said the cattle belonging to Paul Byers, 66, were cramped in pens on the lot.
"They didn't have no grazing area at all," said Ray Baca of the New Mexico Livestock Board. "In fact my understanding is when they picked up the animals, that they didn't have any water at the time, or feed."
Baca said they've dealt with the property owner before and that they gave Byers time to fix the situation. But he never did.
Last month the Livestock Board seized the cattle and charged Byers with 43 counts of cruelty to animals.
"We were going to let Mr. Byers go ahead and sell all these animals, and get rid of the problem," said Baca. "He refused."
Byers didn't want to speak to KRQE News 13 on camera, but he claims he's been wronged. His cattle were healthy before the Livestock Board seized them, he said.
Since they've left the property, the cows' health has deteriorated.
"Being in this small enclosure, these animals didn't have an immune system either," said Baca. "They've never been out in the elements, so they were really prone for diseases."
Baca said the cattle have been seen daily by a veterinarian since they were taken from Byers' property, but several of them developed a respiratory disease. So far 20 have died.
"It was going to hit them eventually because just the lack of sustenance and no upkeep in inoculating, and no vaccines. Just no care at all," explained Baca.
It's a problem Baca said the Livestock Board sees daily with the drought and high feed costs for livestock.
"If you do feel that you have a problem with taking care and getting sustenance for your animals, call us let us know," Baca said. "We're here to help you guys."
Baca said the cattle that have died are being sent for testing to find out exactly what killed them. Right now, they're waiting on the court to decide what they can do with the rest of the cattle.
A man helping Byers with the cruelty case claims there's more to the story and that Byers was in the process of moving his cattle to another location. He said Byers hasn't been able to keep them at his ranch since a dispute with the Bureau of Land Management.
Byers said he's been raising cattle for more than 30 years and that he loves his animals.
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