POLICE have said no policing issues were identified after being called to what appeared to be the slaughtering of a number of sheep in a field near Starbotton earlier this week.

Andrew Howick posted on social media showing a picture of some people in a field where he says sheep were allegedly being hanged upside down in a tree before being killed and then transported to waiting vehicles. He said the incident occurred on June 13.

His post read: "Well be both surprised and very disappointed this afternoon. Heard from someone that there were four or five people in a field very near Starbotton that were killing sheep.

"They were hanging the sheep upside down in a tree and slaughtering it, then they butchered it and carried the meat in a wheelbarrow to the cars lower down the field. There were doing more than one.

"Police were called and nothing could be done as the land owner was present and they had a permit to slaughter. Seemingly it’s perfectly legal. Thought that had all finished years ago.

"I’m very disappointed and very angry. Couldn’t get any nearer to get pictures."

Mr Howick added: "Please note I have put this on 'public'. Just thought people need to know this seemingly still goes on."

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police confirmed they had attended but said 'no policing issues were identified'.

A spokesman for the Animal and Plant Healthy Agency, working as part of government-based agency DEFRA, said they would pass on the information to their vets to see if any animal welfare guidelines had been breached. If so, they could start legal proceedings.

They said that animals are allowed to be slaughtered on farms in certain circumstances, but that this was generally for animal health issues such as disease or injury. Such incidents are usually carried out away from public view to avoid any distress.

Farmers are also allowed to slaughter animals at their premises as long as they are for personal consumption.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We take potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and APHA investigate all allegations. Where welfare regulations are breached, appropriate action is taken.

“We do not comment on individual cases."