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Viva! investigates the British sheep industry. By Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns manager


“I knew little about farming before moving to the countryside,” Diane (not her real name) told me. Once there, the chocolate box image rapidly transformed into one of profound cruelty and neglect. “Living in the countryside has made me


aware of the routinely harsh conditions and sometimes brutal treatment endured by many farmed animals. These are not animals in factory farms but those in fields and barns. But their suffering can be just as severe,” she told me. Diane witnessed sheep on their knees or lying down to eat grass because their


8 viva!life


feet were too painful from foot rot to stand on. Abandoned to the elements, many were in advanced stages of disease and were clearly in distress. Her first step was to appeal directly to the farmers but got only platitudes in return. Then, days later, the animals vanished and Diane discovered that some of them had simply been dumped in barns – to die. Having seen one sheep lying in a field


with a painful prolapse, she asked the farmer what treatment the ewe would receive. His reply? “None! She’ll have to take her chances.” The sheep was then


the hedgerows


behind


moved to a barn by forklift truck where she died during the night after hours of suffering. Out of sight out of mind. This barbaric treatment spurred Diane


into helping the animals where she could and documenting their plight. The aim was to provide evidence for official intervention but the authorities appeared to ignore her, despite it being illegal to allow sheep to suffer. That’s when she took matters into her own hands. One day, she received information that a


sheep had been alone in a secluded field for several weeks and was in poor condition.


HORROR


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