Scotland’s farming union has described the introduction
of a welfare scheme to dispose of light lambs as the latest horrendous
development in the foot and mouth crisis.
Jim McLaren, NFU Scotland President
NFU Scotland has been calling for the introduction of a scheme
to address the tens of thousands of lambs that are facing starvation.
Some lambs still have limited access to grass, but they will be
in no condition to survive colder temperatures. Importantly, on
top of all this, these lambs are eating the grass that their mothers,
the ewes, need to survive over the Winter.
Light lambs are traditionally destined for European markets, however
the export ban has closed that outlet. Whilst there could be a limited
lifting of the export ban at the end of this week, many of these
lambs are now in no fit condition to be processed and, even if they
could be, the backlog simply could not be processed quickly enough.
NFUS President Jim McLaren said:
“This is another dark day in what is turning out to be the
Autumn from hell for Scotland’s livestock industry. To have
reached the point where we have to dispose of lambs because they
are facing starvation is just horrendous. We have been calling for
this scheme, which is an awful necessity.
“Many farmers will struggle with the concept of the lambs,
which they helped come into the world this Spring, being disposed
of. However it will at least bring some relief to them as the welfare
crisis they are facing can now be eased.
“We have had reports coming in of lambs dying already because
the grass is gone and the weather is closing in. The condition of
tens of thousands of lambs that are still on farms is rapidly deteriorating
because of the lack of feed and, worse still, they are eating the
grass that the ewes rely on over the Winter. If our breeding flock
suffers losses over the Winter, the consequences for the long-term
future Scottish sheep industry don’t bear thinking about.
“The fact that the UK Government has still refused to pick
up the cost of this scheme is nothing short of a disgrace. The Scottish
Government has stepped in and that is absolutely critical, but the
negligence and inaction in London will not be forgotten by Scottish
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