Midfield Meat's general manager says he was emotional when he told police the death of employee Pat Smith was "preventable".
Dean McKenna gave evidence in the trial against Midfield Meat in the Warrnambool County Court on Tuesday.
The meat processing giant has pleaded not guilty to two charges of failing to provide a safe working environment. The charges related to an incident on December 15, 2017 when 49-year-old Warrnambool Midfield Meat worker Pat Smith was killed by a large bull stag at a Dunkeld farm.
In his police statement, Mr McKenna said he observed the stag to be "extremely agitated" and was trying to climb the rails of an enclosed yard.
"I believe Pat's death was preventable. I believe that Pat should've been working with another person on the day," he said in his statement, which was taken a month after the incident.
"I also believe the animal in question that killed Pat should not have been there due to it being known as a dangerous animal... Every week Midfield handles stags and as soon as they come in our possession, we process them at the first opportunity if we are aware they are a stag and a dangerous animal."
But on Tuesday, Mr McKenna said he was "emotional" when he made the police statement and that it was taken out of context.
He said some of his statement was misleading and the mere fact that the animal was a stag did not make it dangerous.
Mr McKenna said when he observed the stag at the yard following the accident, he identified it as being dangerous and agitated.
But he admitted that he didn't know the condition of the stag prior to Mr Smith entering the yard.
The court heard Mr Smith was Mr McKenna's first boss and a close friend, as well as a groomsman in his wedding party.
Mr McKenna described Mr Smith as "a very experienced stockman and a good handler of livestock".
He said Mr Smith would travel to farms on a daily basis to weigh cattle and had "very good situational awareness" when working with livestock.
"I had a lot of confidence in Pat. I didn't have to give Pat direction because he knew what to do," Mr McKenna said.
He said field officers made their own assessments based on experience and that moving cattle was "very, very safe as long as the person doing it knows livestock".
Mr McKenna said all field officers were expected to assess the temperament of cattle and were not required to enter enclosed yards with dangerous animals.
He said if the owner of the Dunkeld farm knew the stag was agitated, he should have told Mr Smith.
Mr McKenna said the owner or manager of the property was usually present when field officers entered an enclosed yard but that was "not for safety reasons, for common courtesy reasons".
When questioned by the prosecution, Mr McKenna accepted that he, as the employer, had an obligation to protect the health and safety of his employees, and not the farmer.
But he said it was not Midfield's "expectations" that Mr Smith would have chosen to enter the enclosed yard on his own if Mr Oliver was busy shearing.
Mr McKenna said that since the accident, Midfield had issued a paper checklist for field officers, which said employees could not "enter pens or yards that have cattle encaged without another competent person present".
He said the same system was in place prior to the document "but in an unwritten form".
The trial continues on Wednesday.
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