Live animal exports have resumed at a port after a High Court injunction was served on Thanet District Council, overturning its decision to suspend the controversial trade.
Around 40 protesters gathered at the Port of Ramsgate in Kent as lorries containing sheep arrived there to be transported to the Continent for slaughter.
At the High Court on Tuesday, the council was ordered to allow live animal movements to resume until the outcome of a judicial review into its decision to suspend the trade.
Speaking at the port, James West, campaign manager for Compassion in World Farming, said seven trucks containing sheep arrived there on Friday morning.
He said: "People took the suspension by Thanet District Council as a victory that would stop the trade at least in the short term until the judicial review outcome.
"But now people are back here as sheep are being exported live to the Continent again. We think that all animals should be slaughtered at the point of production and be transported as carcasses rather than live. They are bound for conditions that are considerably worse than in the UK."
The suspension by Thanet District Council was introduced last month after 42 sheep which arrived at the port in a lorry unfit for transporting live animals had to be put down due to their lameness. A further two drowned and two suffered broken legs.
The deaths occurred after the RSPCA provided a report to the council in the summer highlighting the port's inadequate facilities and warning of severe problems with animals in an emergency. A letter co-written by leading council members was then sent to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson making requests, including an urgent establishment of a livestock resting facility in Kent.
The local authority said the suspension would be lifted if suitable facilities could be built within the port and if it deemed it a priority compared with other issues. Following the suspension at Ramsgate, the operation moved to Ipswich but the Suffolk port's owners also halted exports amid concerns about suitable facilities there.
Thanet District Council then received notice that it faced a judicial review over its decision to suspend exports at Ramsgate. Officials said they still plan to mount a "vigorous defence" of the action.