Sheep farming


Of the 23 Million Lambs Conceived Each Year 4 Million Will Die, Mainly Due to Poor Husbandry.


For the Politicians

Direct subsidies and grants away from offensive methods of food production to systems ensuring uncompromised produce affordable to everyone. Divert subventions into improvements to the environment and quality in rural living and animal welfare.

Raise farming and veterinary standards by mandatory training and licensing of all owners and handlers of animals.

Require farmers and food producers to indemnify themselves against losses and costs due to outbreaks of disease, and professional veterinary surveillance and claims from the public in respect of food-borne diseases and environmental harm.

For Consumers

Choose foods less tainted with cruelty than lamb, mutton and kebabs, with or without fancy assurances, kosher or halal. Pull out of complicity in relentless bad shepherding.

There is just one golden rule
There is a substitute for wool.

Lanolin (woolwax), is a balm easily replaced by unsullied soothing agents. Lanolin is not “cruelty free”.

For Pet Owners

Choose foods for your animals likewise. Tell the manufacturers your wishes and call for informative labelling.

Enjoy the countryside with your dog; keep it on the lead in the vicinity of livestock.

Worm the dog regularly, especially if it shares its space with farm animals.

The following statistics were taken from VEGA’s report on sheep farming, issued in February 2000 (VEGA NEWS no 9). See also the associated press release - "SHEEP FARMING – NEW REPORT EXPOSES THE SUBSIDY-SUCKING FOOD-PRODUCTION THAT DESECRATES THE COUNTRYSIDE." To get a copy of the full report contact VEGA.

Losses due to abortion and mortality of newborn lambs may be between 5% and 100%, according to systems, scale of operation, climate, weather, shelter, housing and all.phpects of husbandry, stocking density, stress, and losses to predators. It is deemed “too costly” to mount thoroughgoing surveys, but experienced commentators put the national average at between 12% and 20%; the MLC’s estimates reckon on annual losses of 4 million lambs of which up to 20% are due to abortion and 3.5 million perish shortly after birth. The MLC reckons deaths in lambing ewes of 6% or 7% (i.e. nearly 1 million). Lambing occurs once a year.

Household consumption of lamb and mutton by the average Briton is about 60g per week, down from 80g a week a decade earlier. Present consumption amounts to a lifetime’s slaughter of 21 sheep, for which a further 4 lambs have been conceived but succumbed before they could survive to the age of slaughter.

The aim that the stockperson should survey all the animals in his care at least once a day is seldom met in sheep farming. Instead the labor is employed in occasional drifts and roundups, on quad-bikes and with dogs, to bring in the massed flock for a battery of operations, such as spraying, dipping, footcare, mating, vaccination, medication (by drenching or injection), dagging, tail-docking, castration, and drawing for the market and culling. These cumulative stresses represent insults to welfare. Some of the multi-vaccines combine 6 or more agents and are hefty assaults on the animals’ immune systems; other infections may supervene.

About 18 million lambs and sheep are slaughtered annually in the UK, to provide for home consumption and exports. Between 1 and 1.5 million lambs are sent live for slaughter abroad. This trade may entail journeys from farms and markets in northern areas of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland for slaughter in southern Europe (e.g. Italy and Greece). Journeys within the UK alone may exceed the distances covered by lambs shipped from markets and farms in the lowland areas of southern England for slaughter in France. The live exports provide about a sixth of the total meat sent overseas.

Since the publication of this report many of the evils of sheep farming have been exposed in the media coverage of the Foot and Mouth crisis. The marketing and transportation of sheep has been blamed for much of the spread of foot and mouth disease. For the moment live export of lambs has been banned due to FMD, so many of the animals destined to travel from Wales to southern Europe have been saved from that fate. Farmers are now facing problems of disposal of these lambs as there is no market for them in the UK.

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