Sheep producers have raised concerns over the availability and capacity of UK abattoirs after the government announced a ban on live exports.
The UK is set to become the first European country to end live exports after new powers were unveiled seeking to boost animal welfare.
The second Animal Welfare Bill was launched last week as part of the government’s ambition to ‘protect pets, livestock and wild animals’.
But the National Sheep Association (NSA) has now questioned the sector’s capability of meeting some of the wider implications of the Bill.
Particularly, the Bill’s aim of reducing travel time from the point of production to slaughter ‘needs to also address the availability, capacity and location of abattoirs and slaughter facilities’.
The NSA added there was also a ‘real shortage’ of staff and labour at these smaller sites.
Chief executive Phil Stocker said: “For years we have heard that the UK has over capacity in slaughtering, and in theory, this might be correct.
“But with increased stock to be slaughtered, pressure on journey times, and a shortage of available labour there needs to be investment in options rather than just the application of restrictions.”
To be able to cater for a ban on live exports, the group believes there needs to be sufficient locally placed abattoirs in livestock rearing areas with attention given to their operation to ensure they can provide the appropriate service.
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