Black market meat gang hunted

A black market meat gang is being hunted after two calves were brutally killed and butchered in a field leaving only their heads and innards behind.

At the same time, several other calves were attacked, including having the tendons on their rear legs slashed to stop them running off.

The RSPCA believes the animals were attacked by a gang with butchering experience who plan to sell the meat on the black market.

The charity and police are appealing for information on the ‘wicked’ and ‘unbelievable’ attack on a farm at Frankley Green, which is on the outskirts of Birmingham.

The attack is an example of a wider problem that has seen gangs stealing sheep from farmers’ fields at locations across the country.

The terrified calves would have been killed without the usual stunning that is required by abattoirs to minimise distress and suffering.

The farm is close to the RSPCA Newbrook Farm Animal Centre. The farmer, who has asked not to be named, said: ‘I can’t believe it. This is a wicked thing to do.

‘I’ve worked with animals all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this, the cruelty of it is unbelievable. You look after and care for your animals so to see something like this happen is really upsetting.’

The injured calves that survived received treatment from a local vet who confirmed that one was suffering from a head wound and two of the calves had deep lacerations to their tendons. The injuries were so severe that they had to be put down to end their suffering.

The vet, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘This malicious act must have been carried out by someone with slaughter or butchery experience as they appeared to know how to dismember a cow.

‘Without a handling system the calves were most likely chased and immobilised in the field by slicing the hindlimb tendons.

‘There was no evidence of stunning to render them unconscious, therefore these animals were aware of the pain until the end.

‘Once I examined the remaining calves, there were multiple laceration injuries to hindlimbs. Those that were uninjured displayed signs of stress, exhaustion and abnormal calf behaviour for several days after.’

As well as taking the body of the calves and leaving behind the head and organs, it is also believed that all of the blood was taken as there was little blood found in the field contrary to what would be expected after the injuries inflicted.

Inspector Fiona Howell, who is investigating for the RSPCA, said: ‘This is a shocking and concerning incident and would have caused the calves significant distress and suffering.

‘Even if the person who did this is trained in slaughter, to kill two calves in an open field in the middle of the night without proper equipment, stunning or sedation, is inhumane and cruel.

‘This has been understandably upsetting for the farmer who cares for his animals deeply and is concerned something like this could happen again.

‘This must have taken several people to undertake and a large vehicle or van so we’re hopeful that someone will have seen or heard something which might help our investigation.’

The attack happened overnight on Sunday, October 16, however they have only now been made public.