Asda says that it has saved money and 1.4 million road miles by siting abattoirs and collection centres for lambs together. Pembrokeshire had the first combined centre in the wake of the foot and mouth epidemic, but a new one has just opened near Penrith on a greenfield site close to the M6.

Chris Brown, agriculture manager at Asda, said: "The advantage is farmers don't have to transport the animals to the abattoir. That transport and cost is covered and the disease risk is lower. The animals are also less stressed."

More sites are planned in the near future and the principle could be extended to other red meats, he added.