Up to 90 cows at a farm in Worcestershire have had to be destroyed after being abandoned by their jailed owners.
Owners of Emmadale Farm in Rowley Green Lane, Alvechurch, Lionel David and Stephen Tonge, were jailed in May for non-payment of fines for animal welfare breaches.
No organisation has stepped forward to take care for their animals and most have now had to be destroyed because of a lack of food, water and veterinary care.
Of the 200 animals at the farm, 90 have been put down and a further 30 are slowly starving to death.
Neither DEFRA vets nor the council or the RSPCA are legally responsible for the animals, and local farmers have said they do not want to become liable for them either.
They cannot be sold because they do not have the identifi-cation documents certifying they are free from BSE.
Government vets, who are monitoring the animals, can only step in when any animal is suffering so badly it has to be put down. The three owners of the farm were found guilty of breaching the Protection of Animals Act at a trial in 2003 and were fined in excess of £100,000.
They were jailed for 12 months each on May 25 for failing to pay the fine. They appointed others to look after the animals in their absence, but the arrangement crumbled.
John Puckering, who works on a farm nearby, said: "The cattle are slowly starving to death.
"This is why I'm trying to get somebody to take some responsibility for the animals, trading standards or DEFRA, and instruct somebody to look after them."
But Andy Williams, animal health manager at Worcestershire County Council which brought the action against the owners, said: "There is very little we can do.
"To take the animals off the farm we need a court order which would take so long it's a non starter and if we start caring for them the authority would become liable, which we want to avoid.
"We are monitoring the situation daily and where necessary the state veterinary service is used to humanely destroy the animals." Although the beef cattle have access to the whole farm - including pasture and water - because of weather conditions and the size of the herd there has not been enough for them to eat.
Bridle paths through the farmland have been closed to protect the public. "They have effectively gone wild," said a spokesman for the State Veterinary Service. "Their horns have grown and they have become competitive and aggressive.
"Under current legislation it is only possible for us to access an animal when it begins to suffer and is distressed."
A bill going through Parliament, The Animal Welfare Act, will enable the state vets to step in before the animals begin to suffer.
A spokesman for DEFRA said the situation was "extremely distressing" and "un-satisfactory".
"The Government has no power to cull animals in this case unless the vet advises that it is suffering to such an extent that it would be cruel to be keeping it alive," said a spokesman.
"Most of the animals have already been killed but the veterinary advice is that the condition of the remaining animals does not yet justify their destruction.
"We are looking with urgency at whether there are ways of relieving the situation more quickly."