9 March 2001

Muslim festival cull sheep losses

SHEEP farmers have lost out on thousands of cull ewe and ram sales for ritual slaughter during the Muslim festival of Eid el Kabir.

The movement restrictions imposed because of foot-and-mouth disease have potentially lost producers thousands of £s in lost sales as the Muslim community was urged by its leaders to stay away from slaughterhouses to prevent the spread of the disease.

Reports from the Muslim community and Halal food authorities suggest that foot-and-mouth has also caused a shortage of animals to slaughter and hampered festival celebrations in the UK.

Traditionally in the run-up top the festival cull sheep demand booms. Haig Murray of Longtown Market in Cumbria, one of the countrys largest sheep markets, said it was difficult to know exactly how many sheep were bought from the market for annual sacrifices – or Qurbani – but it was probably thousands.