An Irish farmer was jailed for three days for starving his donkeys and horses to the point that they were reduced to eating fence posts and tree bark to stay alive.

James Curley pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty and was received a sentence of three days imprisonment.

When an Irish Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPCA) inspector visited Curley's field in west County Sligo on 4 February 2010 they found a dead donkey at the gateway and other animals suffering from emaciation, with muscle wastage and hypothermia.

A six month old foal was so malnourished he had to be put down, while another one was covered in painful sores.

All of the surviving animals have since been rehabilitated.

Curley blamed his 16 year old son of neglecting the welfare of the animals adding that he himself was sick at the time. He also insisted that the animals were being regularly fed.

But Judge Kevin Kilrane accused him of telling lies and sentenced him to three days imprisonment.