The Fellowship of Life
The report entitled "Port vigil" (Recorder, April 18) will have caused a great hurt and sadness to many rural people. Any worthwhile appraisal of animal welfare and how they are transported can only be made by looking at the facts. The codes of practice for animal welfare in the UK are the highest in the world.
Several of the quotes in the article are very hurtful - they are certainly not factual. "Emotional hype" would be a more accurate description. For example: "Until fears about BSE led to a ban on cattle exported from this country, calves were packed into lorries, some suffering broken limbs or even crushed to death on the way." As with the traveling public, exceptionally, accidents can happen, but to suggest they are the norm, or even a regular feature of the transportation of calves by road, is not true. Young calves travel well. In a "natural" environment it is usual for a calf, at birth, to suckle its mother's colostrum to excess and then hide itself away for many hours in a secluded position. Calves on route will travel with less stress if they are not disturbed for feeding.
The UK livestock industry is dependent on moving both cattle and sheep over very long distances. This is necessary regardless of the need to transport some stock to other EU countries. If this trade does need to be challenged on moral grounds, or its practices refined for the greater welfare of the animals, our society provides ways to influence these matters. Any organised Church support for these protests is, to say the least, a high risk strategy.
The cost of policing these demonstrations had been estimated at £7-8 million. Add to that the massive costs suffered by transport and ancillary business, legal fees, and even human life. Your article would leave many people wondering just what the protests were trying to achieve.
H.D. Petch (30/5/96)
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