Farmer’s fears over dog attacks

Fears have been raised over potential dog attacks on sheep as we enter the lambing season.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has also issued advice to dog walkers - stressing the dangers to livestock.

It also follows an horrific attack in the Market Rasen area last week when it is believed stray dogs herded sheep into a water filled ditch where 26 of them died through either drowning or suffocation.

One farmer has already described the threat of attacks by dogs as an ‘epidemic’.

James Reed, who farms at Long Reston, has even called for a high profile campaign on ‘prime time’ TV to highlight the problem.

Mr Reed said: “It is about a year since 50 of my breeding ewes were attacked by a Doberman cross dog.

“There were three fatalities - and other sheep in varying states of emergency.

“Since then, I have had two more attacks - not as extreme but still very stressful.

“I always thought it would never happen to me, but it did and it leaves a foul taste in my mouth.

“This epidemic will not go away on its own.

“I suggest we need hard-hitting campaigns on prime time television.

“It is even more crucial this time of year as ewes are heavily in lamb.

“These days farmers try and keep their sheep out at pasture for as long as possible before bringing them inside to lamb.

“The closer you get to the due date, the easier it is for the ewe to abort the lamb in distressing circumstances, such as a dog attack.

“People think sheep are incapable of thinking or feeling, but that is simply not true.

“They are the most maternal creatures there are and will do anything to protect their young.

“It is said a dog’s IQ is similar to that of a three-year-old child,

“You wouldn’t let your toddler get out of sight in unfamiliar countryside so why should you let your dog?”

There have been reports of dog attacks on sheep in the Horncastle area in recent years including incidents at Old Bolingbroke and a farm off Spilsby Road. Attacks also took place in fields close to the River Bain to the south of the town centre.

A spokesman for the NFU said: “Lambing is a special time on the farm but it’s especially important for anyone walking in the countryside to be aware that during the winter and early spring, sheep are pregnant and vulnerable to shocks and stress.

“Any distress at this stage can seriously affect the health of the sheep and their unborn lambs so it is really important for dogs to be kept on leads around sheep.”

– if a dog chases sheep, putting them under stress, the ewe (female sheep) can lose her lamb in what’s called a spontaneous abortion.

When lambing begins, the consequences of a dog chasing a ewe away from her lambs could mean that they’re separated, sometimes a long way from each other. The lamb or lambs might not find their mother again easily meaning they may not feed when they need to and could die if they get dehydrated and cold.

The consequences for dogs and their owners can be equally shattering. Farmers have a legal right to protect their livestock, and in some circumstances are entitled to shoot dogs caught in the act of worrying their sheep.

So, please keep your dog on a lead around sheep. That way the sheep and their lambs will be safe and lambing time will be the happy and productive time that we expect and enjoy. Why not take a few minutes to have a look at NFU’s helpful guide (http://www.nfuonline.com/assets/43360)that explains how to be safe and enjoy the countryside with your dog.

Lambing is a special time on the farm with the new additions to the farmers’ flock coming into the world. It’s the sheep world’s new “crop”, which will feed from their mothers’ milk, learn to graze and play happily. It’s great fun to watch the growing lambs have “races” up and down the field.

But it’s especially important for anyone walking in the countryside to be aware that during the winter and early spring, sheep are pregnant and vulnerable to shocks and stress. The final six weeks of a sheep’s pregnancy when the unborn lambs put on around two-thirds of their birth weight, are when the sheep is at her most vulnerable. Any distress at this stage can seriously affect the health of the sheep and their unborn lambs. So, it is really important for dogs to be kept on leads around sheep – if a dog chases sheep, putting them under stress, the ewe (female sheep) can lose her lamb in what’s called a spontaneous abortion.

When lambing begins, the consequences of a dog chasing a ewe away from her lambs could mean that they’re separated, sometimes a long way from each other. The lamb or lambs might not find their mother again easily meaning they may not feed when they need to and could die if they get dehydrated and cold.

The consequences for dogs and their owners can be equally shattering. Farmers have a legal right to protect their livestock, and in some circumstances are entitled to shoot dogs caught in the act of worrying their sheep.

So, please keep your dog on a lead around sheep. That way the sheep and their lambs will be safe and lambing time will be the happy and productive time that we expect and enjoy. Why not take a few minutes to have a look at NFU’s helpful guide (http://www.nfuonline.com/assets/43360)that explains how to be safe and enjoy the countryside with your dog.

Local farmers have urged dog owners to keep their animals after describing the level of attacks as ‘epidemic’.

And one farmer is so concerned, he has called for a hard-hitting campaign on prime-time TV to highlight the issue.

The warning comes after 26 sheep were killed in what was believed to be a horrific night-time attack in Osgodby, near Market Rasen, on January 5.

The sheep were herded into a water-filled ditch where they drowned or suffocated.

Police appealed to the public to come forward if their dog (or dogs) had been missing that night and had returned in a ‘dirty state’.

Sheep farmers are facing one of their most important times of the year with lambing about the start.

James Read, a sheep farmer from North Reston, described instances of farm animals being attacked by dogs as a constant worry.

He said: “It is about a year since 50 of my breeding ewes were attacked by a Doberman cross dog.

“There were three fatalities - and other sheep in varying states of emergency.

“Since then, I have had two more attacks - not as extreme but still very stressful.

“I always thought it would never happen to me, but it did and it leaves a foul taste in my mouth.

“This epidemic will not go away on its own.

“I suggest we need hard-hitting campaigns on prime time television.

“It is even more crucial this time of year as ewes are heavily in lamb.

“These days farmers try and keep their sheep out at pasture for as long as possible before bringing them inside to lamb.

“The closer you get to the due date, the easier it is for the ewe to abort the lamb in distressing circumstances, such as a dog attack.

“People think sheep are incapable of thinking or feeling, but that is simply not true.

“They are the most maternal creatures there are and will do anything to protect their young.

“It is said a dog’s IQ is similar to that of a three year old child,

“You wouldn’t let your toddler get out of sight in unfamiliar countryside so why should you let your dog?”