Availability and capacity of UK abattoirs, NSA raises concerns

The second Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill launched by the UK Government last week was welcomed by many for including a number of measures setting standards to demonstrate a commitment to improving the UK’s already world-leading position on animal welfare.

However, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is now questioning the capability of meeting some of the wider implications of the Bill, particularly concerning the suggested ban on live exports.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker says “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, alongside a real shortage of staff and labour and how ministers will ensure future international trade deals also meet and uphold these standards.”

To be able to cater for a ban on live exports, NSA 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. Most farmers want to keep journeys to slaughter as short as possible, but there still needs to be choice and competition in order to maintain prices.

He continued: “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.”