The British sheep and lambs were taken more than 600 miles to dimly-lit sheds in France during the height of the summer, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has revealed. The charity found sheep contained in trucks for up to 18 hours while being driven from the Sheffield area to the Deux-Sevres region of France.
Chief executive Philip Lymbery said:"These sheep, which should be raised on our summer pastures, end up in dark sheds for up to a month after highly stressful journeys."
Dutch hauliers took the consignment of 500 sheep almost 650 miles in July when temperatures hit the high 20Cs, a CIWF spokesman said. Animals were packed together so tightly that they could not all lie down at the same time, according to the charity.
The main live export route from Britain to the Continent is through Dover, with just one boat plying the trade across the Channel, the CIWF spokesman said.
CIWF is calling on the Government to change the law to allow ports to refuse the trade in live animals if they wish, which would leave them free of the fear of financial penalty from hauliers seeking compensation if they chose to block live animal exports.
Charles Sercombe, National Farmers' Union livestock board chairman, said that if all the requirements for transporting the sheep had been complied with, then nothing illegal had taken place.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We inspect all livestock being exported at the start of the journey and again at the port to ensure our strict animal welfare standards are upheld."