The sheers number of animals slaughtered in the recent culls designed to control the foot and mouth virus have added up to make the UK deserving of the title: "one of the world's worst foot and mouth epidemics." Yet the real number of animals slaughtered far exceeds that quoted by government ministers, according to the UK national paper, The Guardian.

Official figures quoted by the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) suggest that 2.06m animals have been killed so far, while 178,000 await slaughter. When figures from the intervention board's welfare scheme are included however, the total killed increases to approach 3.7m. This scheme has separately killed over 450,000 animals, and has earmarked a further 790,000 for slaughter.

Furthermore, another separate voluntary scheme has seen the slaughter of another 250,000 animals that are not included in the main statistics.