Sheep farmer felt so guilty on way to slaughterhouse he drove lambs to sanctuary and became vegetarian

Sheep farmer felt so guilty on way to slaughterhouse he drove lambs to sanctuary and became vegetarian

A sheep farmer who felt guilty about driving his lambs to slaughter had a change of heart and took them to a sanctuary instead, becoming a vegetarian in the process.

Sivalingam Vasanthakumar was in line to make up to £9,000 from selling the lambs’ meat before deciding to drive 200 miles out of his way to rehome them.

The 60-year-old said taking animals to be slaughtered had always been difficult for him despite 47 years in the industry.

Mr Vasanthakumar, who began his career working on his parents’ dairy farm in Sri Lanka, drove from Cornworthy in Devon to Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries, near Kidderminster, Worcestershire, to give the lambs a new start.

He said: “The main reason was because I didn’t like them being killed. It was a very emotional time, I would have to watch all the animals I raised be lined up for slaughter.

“I’ve always taken my animals to slaughter and killed the pork myself, I’m not ignorant to how farming works but it always made me stressed. It would stress the animals out too, they knew their fate.”

He added: “They would try to hide in the back of the trailer and wouldn’t want to come out. I would have to push them out, it was very stressful for me and the animals.”

Mr Vasanthakumar said there was nothing unique about this group of animals that prompted him to spare them, but added it was a decision built over many trips to the slaughterhouse.

He said: “It’s been difficult for me for many years and having always worked on farms this has been in the back of my mind.

“For the last three months I was getting a batch ready to go and I decided I couldn’t do it any more.

“It took me a while to make this decision, there was nothing special about this batch. I just couldn’t do it any more.”

He said attitudes toward animals in the agricultural trade was different in Sri Lanka. “All the animals were our pets. They provided our livelihood, but they were still pets to us. We knew all of the cattle,” he said.

“I used to eat lamb but not any more, I’m a vegetarian now. I’ll still be farming and I’ll grow vegetables. It was a difficult decision to make, but the right one.”

Mr Vasanthakumar said he would no longer raise animals for slaughter. He still keeps some cattle, which are free to roam and graze on his land.

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Dave Bourne, manager of the animal sanctuary, said it had never received lambs from a farmer before.

He said there were only a “handful” of sanctuaries the UK that rehomed rescued farm animals and that he believed the “lucky” lambs would have been worth about £9,000.

Additional reporting by SWNS

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