Trading Standards halt auction sale of lame sheep in Ribble Valley

Picture used in evidence shows lame sheep. (s)
Picture used in evidence shows lame sheep. (s)
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One of the county’s best known and busiest livestock auctions has been fined after 23 lame sheep were prevented from going through the sale ring.

Gisburn Auction Marts Limited and auctioneer, Jonathan Turner, pleaded guilty to offences of permitting unfit sheep to be exposed for sale, when they appeared at Blackburn Magistrates Court on Monday.

During a previous hearing the court had been told that a trading standards officer had been on duty at the auction on September 13th last year when he noticed “the distinct smell of foot rot” in the area around the sale pens. In all, 23 sheep were identified as ranging between moderately lame and non-weight-bearing, out of a consignment of 200 animals that had been delivered to the auction the evening before. A vet was called to attend to the animals and reported foot rot and scald lesions, some containing maggot infestation.

The court heard how the animals had come from a farm near Formby, on Merseyside.

Prosecuting for Lancashire County Council, Nick McNamara said that Jonathan Turner had sorted the consignment into lots on the morning of the sale, but had failed to notice that some animals were lame. He said that the auction mart should have had a system in place to prevent what happened or else procedures had not been followed.

Basil Dearing, solicitor, said that Gisburn Auction Marts Limited and Jonathan Turner were disappointed to find themselves in court and would look to learn lessons from what had happened. He accepted that the company procedures had fallen down and that the auction had been trying to do too much in too little time.

Sentencing both defendants for offences against the Animal Health Act 1981, District Judge, James Clarke, said it was a fundamental requirement to protect the welfare of animals at market. Fines and costs totalling £1,765 were ordered to be paid by the company and £1,352 by Jonathan Turner. The farmer, Peter Wilkinson, had previously been ordered to pay £1,235 when he appeared before the District Judge in July.

County Coun. Azhar Ali, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We take animal welfare very seriously and will take any action necessary to ensure the highest standards of treatment throughout Lancashire.”