A gang has butchered a sheep in a “barbaric” attack at a field in East Ayrshire.
Cops are investigating after the one-year-old ewe was slaughtered near Stewarton on February 9.
The slain Texel sheep – weighing around 70kg and valued at around £250 – was likely to have died “a very painful death”, according to farming leaders.
NFU Scotland criticised the attack and said the sheep was “illegally butchered”.
Regional chairman for Ayrshire, Colin Mair, said the meat taken from the animal would ‘be unsafe and contaminated’ by the surroundings.
He said: “This is barbaric.
“To do this would need at least two or three people and the sheep would have died a very painful death.
“The meat taken from the animal would likely be unsafe and contaminated by the surroundings.
“There is absolutely no excuse for this act under any circumstances and I would hope that the farming community and public will assist the police in any way they can.”
Ayrshire regional manager Christine Cuthbertson added: “This is a highly distressing crime for everyone involved and a concerning one as it has been carried out by someone who knew exactly what they were doing.
“Our farmers have the upmost care for their animals’ well-being and for this to have happened is shocking.
“It is troubling as to what the end route is for the illegally butchered lamb is and we would urge members of the public to make sure that they always purchase their red meat via approved outlets and look for the Scotch Lamb logo which provides the assurance that the lamb has been reared and sourced to the highest welfare standards.”
Police Inspector Ian Harvey of Kilmarnock Police Station said: “We take these types of incidents very seriously and understand the impact this will have on the animals and the farmers.
“This a very distressing incident and I would appeal for anyone who has information or know who was responsible, to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting 1442 of February 10.”