We gave pig meat to halal sheep, say activists

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The Independent Online

Animal rights activists claimed yesterday to have fed pig meat to 70,000 sheep awaiting shipment to the Middle East in an effort to render them unsuitable for consumption by Muslims.

Animal rights activists claimed yesterday to have fed pig meat to 70,000 sheep awaiting shipment to the Middle East in an effort to render them unsuitable for consumption by Muslims.

The action was intended to highlight the cruelty of the live animal export trade after a recent scandal in which 57,000 sheep were stranded at sea for 11 weeks. Five thousand of them died after Saudi Arabia refused to take them. The animals, which the Saudis claimed were diseased, were eventually accepted by Eritrea.

Police and agriculture officials were examining sheep held in pens in the port of Portland, Victoria, yesterday to try to verify the claim by Animal Liberation.

The activists said they put rendered pig meat into the animals' feeding system overnight, but Philip King, the owner of the holding pen, said security guards had seen nothing untoward.

Feeding animal products to livestock is banned in Australia, where the live export trade, worth £8m a year, is still reeling from the controversy over the sheep destined for Saudi.

The Portland sheep were supposed to be shipped today. Ralph Hahnheuser of Animal Liberation said: "The fact is they no longer meet the requirements of countries in the Middle East." But a video made by the group of the supposed infiltration did not make clear that the sheep were fed pig. The Victorian Farmers Federation called for the campaigners to be charged. But police said they had no evidence that an offence had taken place.

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