NFU Scotland has outlined the importance of animal transport to the Scottish livestock industry.

Responding to the Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) call for evidence on controlling live exports for slaughter and the improvement of animal welfare during transport after the UK leaves the EU, the Union said that, in Scotland, welfare during transport is taken very seriously, both for the reputation and the quality of Scotland's products. The high animal welfare standards which the Scottish industry delivers is apparent on the many necessary journeys undertaken each year, where animals are transported around Scotland and to other parts of the UK.

NFUS considers that the export market has a vital role to play in providing options for producers and supporting a healthy market within the UK. Exports should be well managed and monitored to ensure that all journeys, whether for breeding, slaughter or further finishing, meet with the current animal welfare standards established across the EU.

Specifically, on live exports to slaughter outside the UK, the Union stated that, while a very small part of the Scottish trade, the option of well managed and regulated exports should be retained, particularly given the uncertainties for trading post-Brexit.

NFUS President Andrew McCornick acknowledged this is an extremely emotive subject that generated a considerable amount of misinformation and negativity and warned: "Given how important animal transport is to Scotland, decisions must be based on sound evidence and not rhetoric."

Mr McCornick went on: "Any ill-considered decision to ban live exports to the continent by ferry also has the potential to be the thin end of the wedge. Scotland's island livestock production prides itself on high welfare and any implication that journeys by ferry are "bad welfare" could be damaging to their reputation.

"As seen by the recent closure on Orkney, the viability of slaughterhouses on Scottish islands is challenging, making transport off islands for slaughter a necessity. Welfare during these journeys is taken very seriously.

"Regrettably, our recent offer to show Secretary of State Michael Gove some of the bespoke high welfare systems developed to ship animals off the islands was declined, but the invitation remains open."

Market round-up

Wallets Marts sold 91 prime hoggs in Castle Douglas yesterday to a top of £114 per head and 247.5p per kg to average £69.49 and194.4p (-18.4p on the week), while 103 prime lambs peaked at £135 and 284.1p to level at £112.14 and 260.4p (-25.9p).

There were also 146 heavy cast ewes that sold to £97 for Texels and averaged £71.32, while 121 light/export-type ewes peaked at £64 for Blackfaces and levelled at £47.38.