Spring is here! Be respectful around livestock to help keep your dog safe.
Nothing says springtime like newborn lambs bouncing around the fields!
Unfortunately, reports show that livestock worrying is on the rise and putting both farm animals as well as our own dogs at risk.
“My dog would never attack livestock, so I let him roam!”
Dog attacks on sheep are rising every year, with the costs to farmers reaching record levels in 2017, at approximately £1.6m. Research from NFU Mutual found that 60% of dog owners admitted to allowing their dogs off lead in livestock areas and contrary to popular belief, worrying livestock doesn’t mean a dog has to chase or attack them to be in danger.
It is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 to worry livestock on agricultural land, and simply being ‘at large’ - off-lead and not kept under close control - in a field containing livestock can be grounds for a farmer to protect their animals by the necessary means. Your dog does not have to chase or attack them to be perceived as a threat.
A threatened or frightened sheep can accidentally abort its young or injure itself trying to escape.
The presence of livestock however, shouldn’t stop us enjoying the great outdoors. Simply remember the following:
Ensure your dog is kept under close control at all times where livestock is present.
If you can’t be confident that your dog will remain close by, DON’T RISK IT. Put them on a lead until you are away from any temptation. Your dog will cope being on the lead for a short while.
Even walking close to a farmer’s field, there may be some unexpected gaps in fencing or gates. Be attentive and keep your eyes on your dog at all times.
Walk around cattle as quickly and calmly as possible, especially during calving season when they will be protective of their young. If they are blocking the public footpath, you are within your rights to find a safer route off the path, rejoining it when it is safe to do so.
If you and your dog are chased by cattle, in this case, let go of your dog's lead. The cattle will probably chase the dog instead and your dog will most likely outrun them, giving you both a chance to escape to a safe area.
As responsible dog owners, we should be respectful to our local farmers and their livestock at any time, however, especially during lambing and calving season. In doing this, we can help to ensure that these incidents do not continue to rise, and in turn this will hopefully help improve relations between us.