Report questions the need for sheep mutilations

07 July 2008

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has issued a new report saying that "castration and tail docking of lambs are mutilations which should not be undertaken without strong justification."

Farmers that tail dock and castrate lambs argue that it is necessary for management and meat quality. Castrated males do not have to be kept separate from females to prevent unwanted breeding and tails are docked to prevent fly strike, which is a potentially fatal infestation of fly larvae.

Scientific research shows that castration and tail-docking both cause considerable pain and distress to lambs. Therefore, lambs which are castrated or tail-docked should at least be given pain relief.

According to a recent Compassion in World Farming survey, supermarkets reported that 25-65% of meat comes from lambs who have been castrated and 40-100% from tail-docked lambs (data on "own label" meat).

"Compassion in World Farming is opposed to castration and tail-docking", said Phil Brooke, Welfare Development Manager.

"We agree with the Farm Animal Welfare Council that industry should move quickly to reduce sheep mutilations and that government should urgently move to authorise suitable anaesthetics. It is unacceptable and should be unthinkable to conduct these operations without pain relief" continued Mr Brooke.

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