An incident of alleged animal maiming occurred in October 1845. In this article we attempt firstly to explain why and how it happened. Secondly, we try to discover the conflicting meanings that various contemporaries gave to this occurrence. We believe that the explanation of the event lies in the nature of ganged labour employed at Deloraine and the complex relationships that existed in 1845 between this ganged labour and the convict administration. Equally important to this complex social interaction are the various meanings given to this episode. The most available representations are of those of middle-class moralists. More difficult to reveal is the oppositional significance attributed to this event by the convicts themselves as they attempted to resist both the practices of the convict administration and the moral justifications for these practices.