Saturday, 13 October 2007

"We orders the time of their birth and the time of their death - an' inbetween times we has a duty."

The waste of the horribly named "welfare cull" is criminal - but many think that the live export of young lambs is too.
A memorable line in one of Terry Pratchett's novels is the wisdom of the old shepherd of the chalk downs who tells her granddaughter:

    "We orders the time of their birth and the time of their death. In between times we has a duty."
We kill our livestock for our food certainly - but while they are alive and in our care would anyone dare to deny that "we has a duty"? Prolonged treatment that hurts or frightens them is callous exploitation; many would think that live export is just that. One comment today received by email gives pause for thought perhaps:

"The light lamb market is very heavily dependent on exports, as it is said that the British Consumer does not like small joints (no one has asked me..) It seems that some rationalisation of the sheep market and our 40 million sheep is long overdue.
If we were geared to exporting lamb as dead meat we could have supplied the starving of Darfur and achieved two humanitarian aims at a stroke - some help for starving humans and a more welfare friendly approach to lambs.
A third benefit would have been a better market price for farmers and this might be the one that appeals to the industry."
What does the UK think it is doing justifying the killing and burning of lambs, such as the Scottish Blackface and the Cheviot, with the unquestioned assumption, as in the Herald, that "the consumer here demands a 15kg to 16kg deadweight carcass"? In 2005, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, said,
"Blackface Lamb is some of the most delicious I have ever tasted. There is no question in my mind that the diet of heather and moorland grasses give it a distinctive and special flavour,and the two year old mutton hung for a full two weeks is particularly outstanding"
If the River Cottage Chef thinks such breeds delicious at two years could these animals not have more of a life and be spared the horrors of the journey to the Mediterranean slaughterhouses? Who decided that we no longer care for mutton?

A kind-hearted emailer, Roger, wrote yesterday:
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Brecon area of Wales doing some business. Obviously, these "light" lambs were everywhere.
I`ve stayed at various places in West Wales and evenings I like to take a walk across hills and down dales where these innocents are in abundance.
You can sit to take in the view and these little things will appear from nowhere. They will wander up to you with no fear and some will even let you give `em a tickle under the chin whilst mum watches close by. Although enjoying the experience and admiring their beauty and friendliness, I have to have it ruined by the knowledge that they are mostly destined to be herded into huge trucks to be carted off to goodness knows where in Europe and possibly beyond - often without proper care nor food and water. It is a horrible business.
So, I am beginning to wonder if it is not kinder to have them culled over here. At least they will not have to suffer that awful journey.
I know that Waitrose take these lambs. Why can`t other supermarkets?"

Much to ponder here.

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