POLICE SCOTLAND is appealing for information after a sheep was killed and apparently professionally butchered in a field by Stewarton.

Farming bodies have responded in uproar to condemn this 'barbaric' behaviour and have urged the public to help Police Scotland with their enquiries.

The incident happened between 8am on Saturday February 6 and 1pm on Tuesday February 9. The sheep killed was a one-year old female Texel weighing approximately 70kgs.

An appeal has been made on Police Scotland's Ayrshire division's social media networks, to both raise awareness of these types of incidents but also to urge for anyone to come forward with any information to help find the person or person's responsible.

Police Inspector Ian Harvey of Kilmarnock Police Station told the SF that it is being treated as an isolated incident but they are trying to act as swiftly as possible in case it becomes a trend.

"We take these types of incidents very seriously and understand the impact this will have on the animals and the farmers.

"Any traumatic incident involving animals evokes a really emotional response from the public and we hope by sharing on social media someone might come across it and come forward with information.

"We have had incidents of this nature in South Ayrshire and one in Auchinleck in the past," he continued, "but currently this incident is being treated in isolation, but we want to make sure we get ahead of any possible trend. 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.”

He also urged people who have experienced incidents like this in the past to come forward and report them, to make sure there is a better picture of what is happening, so the Police can know what warning signs or locations to look out for.

NFU Scotland’s regional chairman for Ayrshire, Colin Mair, who farms at Dalrymple, 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," added Mrs Cuthbertson.