Tesco tells farm to stop using sheepdogs because they 'stress' the flock
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:45 PM on 04th April 2009
Sheepdogs herding a flock may be a familiar farmyard scene, but it could soon be confined to the past if bosses at Tesco have their way.
The supermarket chain has told its major supplier of lamb to stop using dogs, which it claims cause stress to the animals.
It means shepherds at the farm may need to use methods such as beating the ground with sticks and waving their arms to control the flock.
Outraged staff at Silver Fern Farms in Fairton, New Zealand may now have to get rid of up to 60 dogs to comply with the orders, meaning several of the animals will be destroyed.
Shepherd Mick Pethram told the Telegraph newspaper: 'New Zealand sheep are used to dogs, they know dogs.
'There's more stress in a human herding and manhandling them, waving their arms and beating sticks. Dogs are part of a sheep's life. This is absolute baloney.'
He continued: 'We'll be desperately trying to sell them, but most of us will end up putting down three or four each.
'These are good dogs. Taking away our dogs is like taking a hammer away from a builder; we can't do our job without them.'
In New Zealand, abattoirs are attached to farms and dogs are usually used to herd the sheep before slaughter.
Buyers for Tesco visited Silver Ferns Farm, which is one of the chain's biggest suppliers of lamb, earlier this year and were said to be upset at the dogs 'running riot'.
A spokesperson for the store said: ' We don't have a problem with sheepdogs, but we need to make sure they treat the sheep in a considerate manner, so they don't stress the sheep out.'
Scientists have found evidence that causing stress to animals before slaughter can cause the meat to become pale and watery.
However a spokesperson for the National Farmers Union said there was no evidence that sheepdogs caused animals to feel stressed.