Lambs slaughtered for Easter: shocking images from Italy


Lambs slaughtered for Easter: shocking images from Italy

3 April 2020
Essere Animali
Italian animal rights organisation Essere Animali has released new footage documenting cruel lamb production in the island of Sardinia.

The video shows lambs killed in inhumane and painful ways in Sardinia, one of the most important European regions for sheep milk. “To produce milk, sheep must give birth to lambs that are usually killed for their meat just 30 days after birth,” states an Essere Animali spokesperson.

In the province of Oristano, the investigators filmed the transporter hanging a group of lambs by their legs and leaving them for up to ten minutes in order to weigh them. This practice is prohibited by the law, as it causes distress and can lead to serious injuries. 

Horrifying scenes were also recorded in a slaughterhouse in the province of Sassari. Workers handle animals with carelessness and negligence, despite the presence of veterinarians. The lambs, only a month old, are forced to watch their fellows die. Some are not properly stunned and have to endure the pain of electrical stunning twice as the workers wait too long to slit their throats. Some regain consciousness in the meantime, while others are killed while still conscious. 

The consumption of lamb is especially popular at Easter and Christmas. “Farmers confessed that at other times of the year, when consumers’ demand for lamb meat is lower, they kill newborn lambs, as it does not make economic sense to raise them,” continues the association. “This is an illegal practice that clearly constitutes a crime under article 544-bis of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure.” 

The organisation already reported those responsible to the Cagliari district public prosecutor’s office. They also asked for the prompt intervention of the Health Protection Agency (ATS Sardinia) and the Italian Ministry of Health to further investigate the farming conditions under which millions of sheep are raised on the island.

According to data by the Italian Ministry of Health and ISTAT, in 2019 the sheep population in Sardinia amounted to 2.9 million animals, and an estimated 548,000 lambs were killed for their meat. “If we consider that a ewe on a farm usually gives birth to at least one lamb per year, and that half of newborn lambs are females usually reared for their milk, the total number of lambs slaughtered for their meat should be at least one million,” states Essere Animali. “Official data do not reflect the reality: it seems that every year thousands of newborn lambs are not identified and registered within the national livestock database.” 

In the past, Essere Animali released other investigations exposing the cruel and painful killing of lambs in Italian slaughterhouses. However, this is the first time that the organisation has conducted an extensive undercover investigation in Sardinia, the region with the highest number of sheep and goat farms in Italy. 

“Even when the slaughter of lambs is carried out in compliance with the law, it still is an heartbreaking scene to witness. These animals, only a month old, are terrified and cry in despair after being prematurely separated from their mothers. For this reason, this year we have relaunched the campaign #IDontEatLamb to invite people to celebrate a cruelty-free Easter without eating lamb, as well as other animals’ meat,” concludes the spokesperson.

When consumers’ demand for lamb meat is lower, they kill newborn lambs, as it does not make economic sense to raise them.
Essere Animali