An annual Easter sheep "Grand National" was cancelled as a result of threats from vegan activists.

The event, which has taken place at Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom in Shropshire since 1991, involved sheep racing with toy "jockeys" over low fences to reach their food. Visitors picked a winner and received badges and rosettes if their favourite came first.

During March, a group called Lambentations launched a petition to close down the races, which they claimed were cruel. The farming family who organised the event cancelled the races, claiming they had been subjected to a barrage of abuse despite the fact there had never been any racing-related injuries to the sheep in 27 years and they had never been forced to run.

Much the same happened last year when the annual Moffat sheep races had to be cancelled due to licensing issues, after more than 80,000 signatures had been gathered against the event on the grounds of cruelty.

Those who protest at such events have little understanding of sheep and cruelty, but are simply expressing their anthropomorphism.

Should we now ban sheep farmers from gathering their flocks into pens for routine dosing, dipping and shearing? Then of course the protestors could try and ban sheep shearing competitions. Perhaps we should stop transporting sheep in lorries to distant grazing or markets?

Are sheepdog trials cruel? The sport was popularised by Phil Drabble's TV series One Man and His Dog, and remains a firm favourite with the public. Of course sheepdogs don't confine their skills to guiding a small group of wily sheep round a course and finally penning them. Quite a few dog handlers put on demonstrations at local agricultural shows and other country events, using their sheepdogs to guide small groups of ducks round an obstacle course.

Ducks and geese, like sheep, flock together and lend themselves to being driven by sheepdogs. Indeed, quite a few sheepdogs started to learn the skills of their craft as young pups rounding up ducks in the farmyard. In medieval times, geese were driven by dogs long distances to lucrative markets like Smithfield in London.

Racing animals like horses and camels has been widely practised since man domesticated animals - and there are many different species involved, including ferrets that are raced through an arrangement of pipes.

One of the wackiest events I ever witnessed was the National Poultry Races in Carlingford, County Louth in Eire back in Easter 2012.

The rules for each race, that involved 5 or 6 hens, were simple. The handlers, mostly children, would line up their birds. The starter would then say: "Ready, steady (at this point the bird is held gently, with its feet on the ground) and then "Go", when the handler is allowed to stand behind the bird and "shoo" it to the line. The handler must walk at all times, as running leads to disqualification, as does touching the bird after the "off". While birds can cross lanes, if for any reason they fly out of the enclosure before the finish, they are disqualified.

The races were mayhem, with hens running in all directions, except for the finishing line.

The afternoon turned out to be great family entertainment with all the birds returning home unharmed and none-the-worse for their day out at Carlingford.

Poultry racing is not a new idea as villagers in Bonsall, Derbyshire have been racing chickens against one another for fun for more than 100 years.

Then there is pig racing that is held every week during the summer on a farm in Fife, where pigs tear round the "race course" and enjoy a meal of pig nuts at the end. It is the pigs' choice if they wish to take part, and all pigs are fed at the end of the race whether they compete or not.

Many animals naturally race each other for the sheer fun of it. On a sunny spring morning when you feed a batch of ewes that are nursing young lambs, those young lambs will often gather into a mob at the end of the line of troughs and take off in a mad race to the top of the field. After a pause, and a few skips they will then race back, swirl around their feeding mothers and take off again.

Yes, animals are sentient beings that have the capacity to feel joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering, but racing sheep is no more stressful for them than many routine husbandry practices.

Perhaps vegans would be better advised to turn their attention to the non-stun, ritual slaughter of animals for religious purposes.