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Embattled Buford cattle farmer says he'll give up cows

Recently the Gwinnett County animal control visited the 87 acre Buford farm belonging to John Lamb, claiming that his cows are malnourished. Lamb has been caring for the cows on his farm since 1955. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Recently the Gwinnett County animal control visited the 87 acre Buford farm belonging to John Lamb, claiming that his cows are malnourished. Lamb has been caring for the cows on his farm since 1955. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

BUFORD — Countless community members have rallied around a Buford farmer, pitching in over the last several days to help him and his emaciated herd of cattle. In the end, though, their efforts likely won’t be enough.

John Lamb, who’s raised cows on his land near Interstate 85 since 1955, met with his attorneys Monday and the news wasn’t good.

“They say that I’ve got to pretty much give up the cows or I’ll be in serious trouble,” Lamb said.

Gwinnett County animal control was originally summoned to Lamb’s farm about two weeks ago after a concerned neighbor called police. Authorities confirmed that several of the octogenarian’s cattle had died and most of the remaining 40 or so were malnourished.

Police have said they could file animal cruelty charges but don’t wish to do so, saying there was “certainly no criminal intent” on Lamb’s behalf. According to Lamb, veterinarians have pointed to inferior-quality hay, the likely product of heavy rain last year, as the primary problem.

Authorities also have no desire to seize the animals, which would then have to be sold or given to a rancher under the stipulation they be used only as “pets.” That leaves a reluctant Lamb to try and part with them himself.

Lamb said there are two livestock auctions in the general area — one in Athens, another in Carnesville — where he could attempt to sell his bovine collection. He said he already plans to sell “a couple” of cows to a gentleman starting his own herd.

“At least I’d get the money out of them if I sold them (privately),” he said Monday.

Since news of the situation broke late last week, dozens of volunteers and members of the animal welfare community have stopped by the farm on Sunny Hill Road to lend a hand.

“It’s been amazing the number of people that have taken my side on this case, and brought me hay and feed and called me up and indicated that they were in support of me,” Lamb said. “That’s very consoling, but I’m probably not gonna be able to keep them.”

Lamb suggested that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals may be the chief instigator behind his predicament, but officials with that group said their involvement has been minimal.

“We just simply reached out to law enforcement officials to let them know that we would be glad to help with placing the animals,” Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president of cruelty investigations, said Monday.

Nachminovitch said PETA also offered to help with food and asked Gwinnett County police to pass along their case worker’s information to Lamb’s attorney. She called the situation “concerning” but thanked the number of volunteers who had helped take care of the animals thus far.

“We’re very very heartened to see the community pull together for him and for the cows,” Nachminovitch said.

Meanwhile, Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter took to Facebook to offer his own two cents on the county’s involvement in the issue, which originated as a criminal investigation.

“This is NO PLACE for a conservative-run county to be sticking our noses,” he wrote.

State House Rep. Brett Harrell and Snellville city councilman Dave Emanuel agreed.

“Set ‘em straight Tommy!” Harrell wrote.