Limestone County investigators found the bodies of nine starved cattle Monday and many more on the verge of death by starvation.
David Coffman Jr., 49, of Fred Bates Road, was charged with cruelty to animals and failure to bury dead animals, both misdemeanors. According to Sheriff’s Investigator Leslie Ramsey, Coffman was released on a total $1,250 bond shortly after he was booked into jail on the two charges.
According to Sheriff Mike Blakely, Coffman’s failure to feed his cattle adequately came to light about a week ago when tips were left on the Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.
“We sent our investigators out and alerted the state agriculture investigator,” Blakely said. “When they got out to his place on Fred Bates Road they found a couple of dead cattle but he was putting out some hay. The investigators instructed him to continue feeding the cattle and to dispose of the dead ones.
“That was before we started getting calls about the ones out on Persimmon Tree Road.”
He said residents reported that the cattle had resorted to eating leaves and twigs. Blakely said his department sent investigators and informed the state veterinarian about the situation just off Alabama 99, where Coffman rents an additional 80 acres on which he pastures about 50 head of cattle.
“I also asked Dr. Robert Pitman to go by there and take a look at the cows on his way up to his place,” said Blakely. “He said the cows were in terrible shape. But he also said while he was there Coffman brought in one bale of hay and said he was bringing in more. “But Pitman went by Sunday and said there was no more hay brought in.”
The sheriff said he and his investigators discovered a ghastly sight Monday morning with nine emaciated cow carcasses scattered about the barren pasture.
“He had 50 head of cattle on 80 acres and they are in bad shape,” said Blakely. “The state veterinarian recommended plenty of hay and sweet feed to make sure they can digest. As it is, they are chewing their cuds, but they are digesting their own stomachs. There’s nothing down there.”
Blakely said he told Coffman that he could either sell the remaining cattle, feed them or his department would confiscate them.
“We told him we would work with him,” said the sheriff. “I think Mr. Coffman just got too many irons in the fire. He’s got chicken houses too. He’s got another farm where the cattle look good.
“But the shape these cattle are in, more might die. We will definitely check back. The sad thing is that if feeding the cattle got to burdensome, he should have sold some before they got in this shape, and that would have paid for feeding the rest.”