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Warning to dog owners as claims for attacks on livestock rocket

sheep farmer apprenticeship week

6:28am 14th February 2018
(Updated 6:38am 14th February 2018)

Dog owners in Surrey and Hampshire are being warned to keep their pets under control as the cost of livestock worrying claims soars

Figures from insurer NFU Mutual show that the cost of claims has increased by 67 per cent in the UK since 2015. 

In the South East the cost of claims fell by approximately £6,000 but is still up on the 2015 figure.

Between January and April 2017, when pregnant ewes and new born lambs are often grazing on low-lying pasture in areas more accessible to walkers, the average cost of claims was more than double compared to the rest of the year.

Tim Price, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Attacks by dogs are one of livestock farmers’ worst nightmares, In addition to the suffering to the animals, attacks can have a severe financial impact.

"Insurance can cover the cost of replacing stock killed and the treatment of injured animals, but there is a knock-on effect on farm profits when pregnant sheep chased by dogs lose lambs.

“We are also getting reports that many attacks are being caused by dogs which have been let out in owners’ gardens and escaped to worry sheep in neighbouring fields."

Hugh Broom, a farmer based near Dorking, said: “We had a situation the other day where a lady pulled off the A25 to let her dog go for a wee in the field, didn’t realize that the sheep were there.

“The next thing we’ve got a terrier chasing 300 heavily pregnant ewes round a field. The woman was mortified, but she was as shocked I think as the sheep, this is easily avoidable.

“Put your dog on a lead; do not assume just because your dog is a perfectly behaved dog and it will walk beside you lovingly all day long - that when it sees a sheep it will continue to do that.

“If you see a sign that says that there’s sheep coming up, or cattle, then make sure you put your dog on a lead as well.”

As well as keeping dogs of any size on a lead, owners are advised to report attacks by dogs and sightings of dogs roaming the countryside, as well as familiarising puppies with farm livestock from a young age to reduce the risk of them attacking sheep or cattle as adult dogs.

Owners are also being warned about letting dogs loose in gardens adjoining livestock fields, with many attacks caused by dogs which escape and worry sheep grazing nearby.


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