Veterinarians are caring for 28 malnourished and sick animals that state officials seized from a Sidney farmer who has been cited in the past for animal-related offenses.

The 23 goats, four calves and a chicken were taken from Mark Gould’s Drummond Avenue property on Tuesday after four state humane agents, with help from state police and Animal Control Officer Chris Martinez, searched the farm, said Liam Hughes, director of the Animal Welfare Program in the Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry.

“Most of them were malnourished or had physical ailments that needed to be seen by veterinarians,” Hughes said Thursday.

Gould has a history of animal-related offenses, including being investigated in April for reports that he left dead livestock where they lay on the farm grounds.

In 2011 and again last summer, he was charged with animal trespassing for allowing his goats to wander onto neighbors’ land and Interstate 95. The Agriculture Department earlier this year referred the April case to the Attorney General’s Office for enforcement of a civil violation after officials did a third site visit this spring. Calls Thursday to Attorney General’s Office and the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office were not returned Thursday.

Hughes said state officials work with farmers who have animals with problems to help educate them about how to care for their animals and provide services and contacts. They did so with Gould, he said.

“When we have a situation like this with animals in desperate need of help and not getting it, we had to act,” Hughes said.

Officials went to the farm Tuesday after receiving reports that animals might be in distress.

Hughes said the department has requested a court hearing in the case, asking a judge to give the state custody of the malnourished animals so they can be evaluated and receive care.

Hughes declined to comment on whether charges were or will be filed against Gould, but he said officials are working on the case, building evidence and discussing it with the district attorney’s office.

Hughes wouldn’t say where the animals were taken or release pictures of them.

Gould said Thursday by telephone that most of the animals the state seized are those that he had bought in the last few months at Somerset Auctions in Fairfield, where he works. He said they were sick when he bought them, and he has been trying to nurse them back to health. He said some animals are in such poor shape he buys them for $10.

“I buy all the bottom of the barrel,” he said. “Either you bring them back to health or they die.”

Hughes said the seized animals are being kept “in protective custody.”

“They’re technically evidence,” he said of the animals.

He said officials are very protective of animals in such cases.

Gould is concerned the animals are not being cared for properly now, and he wants them back. “They’re still my animals,” he said.

The state didn’t seize cows Gould has had for a longer time, he said.

Hughes confirmed that about 12 adult cows that were not at immediate risk for injury or illness were not taken.