13 August 1999

Death of 60 sheep prompts call for an end to live transport

By Isabel Davies

AN animal welfare group is calling for farmers to consider a phased withdrawal from the live export trade, after the death of more than 60 sheep being transported to Greece.

Compassion in World Farming said it tracked the lorry containing more than 400 animals from Britain to Bari in southern Italy. The sheep were then left on the lorry in the port, without water, for more than 48 hours.

By the time authorities decided to unload the lorry, 40 of the sheep were already dead. Others have since died from exhaustion and dehydration.

Peter Stevenson CIWFs political and legal director said the case highlighted the need for action.

He appreciated that farmers were facing difficult times but said he would like them to start to plan to get out of the live export trade.

He thought many farmers believed that sheep were only going as far as Belgium or Holland.

"But our investigators have witnessed thousands of British sheep being exported to Greek abattoirs via Italy on journeys of anything from 70 hours to over 100 hours," he said.

The idea that Continental consumers wanted only live animals and not meat was a myth, said Mr Stevenson. Meat accounted for 85-90% of sheep exports and, with skilful marketing, it should be possible to convert that to 100%, he believed.

But a representative from Farmers Ferry, the only firm offering a cross-channel live export route, rejected that argument. Differences in lifestyles and culture meant customers wanted meat from freshly slaughtered animals, he insisted.

Commenting on the incident he said, the company was "as shocked and appalled to hear of the problem as anyone else". Ownership of the sheep was not yet clear. But if they were confirmed to be British and the company involved was found to be dealing directly dealing with Farmers Ferry, it would be banned, he added. &#42