SMALLHOLDER Allan Ogg who allowed his hens to live deep in carcasses and faeces has narrowly escaped a prison sentence.

Ogg, 50, of Riverside, Quemerford, Calne, appeared before Chippenham magistrates for sentencing last week after he admitted three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to his hens over a period of three months.

RSPCA officials were first called to Ogg's smallholding following torrential rain that flooded the area in November. On inspecting the premises they found carcasses of hens buried in faeces and live birds walking on top of them.

In a later inspection RSPCA officials noticed Ogg's hens were still living in poor conditions and reported the matter to police.

Nigel Weller, defending, told the court Ogg had 40 years' experience looking after hens, had no previous convictions and urged magistrates to look at the matter objectively.

He said: "In a bizarre and ironic way a lot of the animals survived the floods because of the deep litter system Ogg was using.

"I think as English people our emotions are based on our animals."

Mr Weller claimed Ogg did not treat his animals poorly on purpose, but admitted he had failed to comply with RSPCA standards.

Ogg, who is unemployed, was ordered by the court to bring 12 months of bank statements. But after only producing three he was told to walk to a cashpoint to print out his balance.

Magistrate Mr Sparling told Ogg: "There are standards set for the care of chickens. You were warned by the RSPCA and you did nothing about it. We feel this constitutes enough to send you to prison."

But magistrates decided, because of Ogg's personal circumstances, to sentence him to 300 hours' unpaid work and ordered him to pay £2,000 in costs.

Speaking after sentencing ,RSPCA inspector Glyn Roberts said: "I think given the circumstances and the evidence that came up, this was an appropriate sentence.

"The vet said in his first report it was a total and obscene welfare disaster. The