Banbury area villagers who tried to save starving sheep are devastated at their disappearance

A Banbury area village whose residents tried to save five starving sheep are devastated that they have been spirited away before welfare officers could process them.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 1:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 11:43 am
The dead sheep before its body was removed by its owners last Friday
The dead sheep before its body was removed by its owners last Friday

The emaciated sheep were involved in an inquiry process with Trading Standards and had been inspected by an RSPCA officer after several North Newington villagers reported that one had died overnight last Thursday.

Following an inspection, the owners - who do not live in the area - were told that serious concerns about the sheep's condition had been reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency on Friday. Within 36 hours the animals had been removed, residents said. In the meantime the village had bought hay and feed and had started a rota to ensure the animals were fed.

A resident told the Banbury Guardian: "There were 11 sheep there at New Year - a ram and some young females - but they were clearly without any food whatsoever and we reported them to the RSPCA.

The surviving sheep with hay bought by the villagers of North Newington before they were taken away

"Trading Standards came to the site and they spoke to the owners who brought a truck with some hay but that's the last supervision anyone has seen. Five of the young ewes were taken away. The hay got wet and mouldy and the sheep were hunting through the moss, soil and brambles to find something to eat.

"We were very concerned but when we saw that one had died last Thursday night we had to call the RSPCA again."

An inspector saw the remaining live sheep on Friday and described them as in an emaciated condition at point five (.5) on a scale of 1 - 5. His concerns were sent immediately to the Trading Standards office but before that inspector could attend, the sheep had been taken away in a trailer, villagers said.

Because of the thick wool on the animals, the extent of their emaciation was difficult to appreciate and the sheep had to be felt to determine their skeletal condition.

Oxfordshire Trading Standards office said in a statement: "As this is an on-going matter and involves legal requirements and duties, and therefore the potential for breaches of criminal legislation, it is not appropriate to provide specific details.

"However, Oxfordshire County Council takes complaints about the treatment of farmed animals and failures to carry out the legal responsibilities of being a livestock keeper very seriously. The council aims to work with keepers to improve practices, but will also not hesitate to take formal enforcement action, if required."

* RSPCA will respond to reports of farm animals suffering but these are reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency whose local inspectors are with Trading Standards offices.

To read more about how to get help from RSPCA over worries about farm animals see https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/farm/worriedaboutafarmanimal