More than £500,000 worth of pedigree stock is stranded in Scotland, as restrictions and red tape halt live exports from mainland Britain.

Both cattle and sheep are sitting in limbo, having been sold through the auction system, but they are unable to be transported to their buyers’ holdings due to constraints.

Andrew Ewing, a farmer and livestock haulier, has been exporting livestock for 27 years through his business, AJ Ewing, based at Dumbretton Farm, Annan. He says current restrictions are making what they do almost unworkable.

“It is the situation with Bluetongue restrictions meaning that exporting out of the United Kingdom isn’t possible – that’s the main issue affecting the job,” he told The Scottish Farmer. “We have cattle sitting that were sold at the Oban Highland Cattle sale last October, and a load of Aberdeen Angus, that should all be heading for Northern Ireland, Ireland, France and Spain, but we simply cannot get them out of this country.

“There are about 25-20 Salers from the sale at Castle Douglas, 40 Holstein heifers, Limousin cattle from

Anthony Renton’s Meadowrig herd dispersal and Charolais cattle from the Gretnahouse dispersal, all in the same situation. Many of these animals are the very best of pedigree livestock.”

Mr Ewing continued: “We have about 150 head of cattle all in, and as things stand, we cannot export.

“In many cases, these animals changed hands for a lot of money, so to try and resell them wouldn’t be sensible, but the hands of both the buyers and the sellers are tied.

“Sellers understandably want them off their holdings – some with more urgency than others – and if we had to we could take them and hold them, but at this point that would be for an indefinite period of time, which is far from ideal from the point of view of ourselves, or the buyers of the stock in question.

“This is an issue we’ve been dealing with since restrictions all kicked off on November 11, 2023.”

Another farmer, who had sold sheep to a Northern Irish buyer, explained that he had waited so long for the animals to travel that the buyer had backed out of the sale.

“I don’t blame him,” he explained, “but situations like that leave us with stock that we have already held onto for longer than we would like, and no obvious outlet to resell them. I know some sheep boys that have ended up killing their stock because they feel like they’ve had no other option. There are hundreds of sheep all over the country that cannot be moved.”

There is also the question of a post-Brexit fallout, as cattle exports to European countries remain at a relative standstill. Talks are ongoing between the UK, Northern Irish and EU governments to make trade easier.

Veterinary checks on animals entering Europe have been required since the UK left the European Union (EU) on January 1, 2021.