A sheep race scrapped after farm owners received threats from animal rights activists is to return this weekend after vets gave it the all clear.
Hoo Farm in Preston Upon the Weald, Shropshire had been entertaining families for nearly 30 years with its bank holiday sheep-racing tradition.
Organisers were forced to cancel the event at Easter after being targeted by activists and vegans, who branded the event “cruel” and “inhumane”.
Owner Will Dorrell, 27, said he scrapped the Sheep Gold Cup and the Sheep Grand National races after staff received verbal and physical threats.
More than 50,000 people signed a petition calling for the event to be banned, arguing it goes against the timid nature of sheep.
But vets from the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said they were satisfied the event would not compromise the sheep’s welfare.
Sheep welfare ‘not compromised’
In a statement on its Facebook page, Hoo Farm said: “We are delighted to announce the return of the world-famous sheep steeplechasing this Saturday (26 May).
“After a review of the racing and the entire farm by two vets from the APHA on the 19 April, they were satisfied the welfare of the sheep was not compromised by being involved in the racing.”
However, the vets did make three recommendations to the organisers to help the perception of sheep racing and to make it even safer.
Organisers released a five-minute video on Facebook explaining the recommendations, which included a make a change in the sheep’s food, recording which sheep are used in which race, and changing the material the fences were made from to foam.
In a statement on Facebook, animal activists group Lambentations, which organised the petition, said: “All our hard work undone by the APHA.”