FARMER David Dobbin is waiting to hear whether his herd of cattle had been destroyed after he was accused of contravening regulations introduced in the wake of mad cow disease.

Mr Dobbin of Chorlton Lodge Farm, Little Rake Lane, Chorlton-by-Backford, was minutes away from having his herd slaughtered on Friday, until solicitor David Kirwan secured an injunction.

The 567 cattle, which are being looked after away from the farm, won a reprieve but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is expected to try to have the injunction over-turned next week.

Mr Dobbin has also been summoned to face magistrates next Tuesday, along with Susan Jayne Lofthouse of the same address, for alleged animal cruelty.

A number of his cattle have been destroyed by the State Veterinary Service.

Last Thursday he pleaded guilty at Worksop Magistrates Court to three charges relating to illegal movements of cattle in March 2005, while a tenant farmer at Darlton, Nottinghamshire.

Mr Dobbin claimed he had been a victim of a campaign by DEFRA and Cheshire Trading Standards.

He said: 'We have been through hell. DEFRA and Trading Standards drove our business to the brink. We believe they acted outside of their powers in harassing us.'

It is understood animal welfare officers became concerned at the state of the cattle while the investigation into whether Mr Dobbin had contravened regulations was carried out.

Council spokesman Ian Callister said: 'A man and a woman from the Chester area will appear before Chester magistrates court next Tuesday in relation to charges under the Protection of Animals Act 1911. The prosecution by Cheshire Trading Standards follows an inspection of cattle by veterinary surgeons.'