250,000 lambs stranded by foot-and-mouth outbreak to be slaughtered
AROUND 250,000 Scottish lambs bred for European markets are to be slaughtered over the next ten weeks, ministers announced yesterday.
The Scottish Government insisted the 6 million cull was the only way to tackle the problem of the so-called "light lambs" caught up in the wake of the foot-and-mouth scare.
The lambs would usually be exported but, because of the movement restrictions imposed in the wake of the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in England, the lambs have been stuck on hillsides. They cannot be moved off the hills or exported.
Ministers said farmers would get 15 for every lamb slaughtered, short of the 25 - 30 per lamb the farmers usually receive on European markets. However, the payments will give farmers the chance to recoup some of the cost of raising the lambs and stop the animals suffering on hillsides as the weather worsens.
Charles Milne, Scotland's chief veterinary officer, said: "We were faced with a stark choice - do we leave these lambs to suffer or provide a humane way of destroying them? That's a no-brainer. We have to safeguard the welfare of this livestock."
He added it might be possible for some farmers to sell their lambs once the export market reopens on Friday. Although some animal parts may be used for biodiesel, officials said they will not enter the food chain.
Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs secretary, said: "The UK government should bear the costs of this scheme, but action is needed now and we will provide funding on an emergency interim basis and seek to recover this from DEFRA in due course."
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