Armidale Regional Council's CEO Susan Law confirmed council lost 13 head of cattle across the Christmas New Year period after a tap feeding the water trough was turned off, either by some unknown person or accidentially by the cattle.
"We don't know how that happened. Whether it was a deliberate act or inadvetant," Mrs Law said.
The cattle were checked on December 30 and 13 were found dead on January 6.Susan Law
"We will report it to the police, just in case it was deliberately done by a person and could be repeated elsewhere."
Mrs Law said three of the 13 cattle were too far gone when found by council staff and had to be put down.
"The staff we have running the farm and caring for the livestock are animal enthusiasts and they care about the animals," she said.
"They were very distressed at what they found, and by what they had to do.
"We do check on them regularly, and over the period checked on them on a weekly basis. I understand from the farming types around Armidale that that's pretty standard, and probably a little better than some. Unfortunately this happened in the period between one check and another."
Mrs Law said council ran the cattle on land it owned near the Airport.
"I guess it's a “flow-on” from the farm we use to use the treated water from the sewerage treatment plant," she said.