Spate of sheep being slaughtered in farmers' fields sparks warning over 'suspicious' meat sales

The alarming trend has particularly affected Northamptonshire. (GETTY)

Dozens of sheep have been slaughtered in farmers’ fields this year in “unprecedented” crimes sparking police to urge people to report any “suspicious” sales of meat.

At least 80 sheep have been killed this year in the UK by criminal gangs to sell the meat on the black market, police believe.

The unauthorised killings of the livestock is causing concern for people who eat it as it has not undergone meat hygiene inspection and could be unfit for consumption.

In the latest attack, police found nine lambs had been illegally butchered and thrown in a a ditch on a farm in Clipston, Northamptonshire.

The illegal meat trade could be dangerous for people consuming it. (GETTY)

Park End Farming in Northamptonshire wrote on Facebook following the butchering of their sheep: “Today the worst thing happened that my children witnessed. Today we found that our sheep were butchered in the field last night. Words cannot describe how I feel after all the hard work and love that goes into our stock. Today I feel like giving up.”

Northampton has been particularly affected and the police have received at least five reports of animals being killed and butchered in their field overnight.

Rural affairs specialist at National Farmer’s Union Mutual, Tim Price, said: “There is a risk to human health from eating meat which has been butchered in unhygienic conditions and may be from animals which have had medical treatment which makes them unfit for human consumption.”

“It appears to be an organised crime and the criminals seem to have an operation with an outlet that will sell the meat.

Read More on Yahoo News

Bleating the traffic: sheep dodge cars in tour around Paris

Farmer's anger at police after finding sheep 'butchered' and dumped in bin bags

“It is unprecedented. It is a horrific crime sending shock waves through the farming community and we urge people not to buy meat from a suspicious source.”

Cllr Jason Smithers, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “These cases raise real animal welfare and food safety concerns as the people doing this are following none of the legally required processes or standards.

“In terms of the meat being taken, the hygiene and anti-contamination processes followed in slaughterhouses are also obviously not taking place, and the animals have been slaughtered without confirmation of food chain status.”

---Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK---