NFU Mutual urges walkers to keep dogs under control over Easter

News | other
NFU Mutual is urging dog walkers to keep their pets under control while exercising on farmland following a series of attacks on sheep in recent days.

Following reports from farmers across the UK, the leading rural insurer is concerned that walkers taking dogs unfamiliar with farm animals into the countryside may not be aware that their pets could follow their instincts to hunt and attack sheep and lambs.

Recent attacks have included sheep killed and others injured across the UK, at a time when ewes and their new-born lambs are particularly vulnerable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist, said: “These horrific attacks have left a trail of dead and seriously-injured sheep and new-born lambs so we are urging dog walkers to keep their pets on the lead at all time when exercising them in countryside where livestock are reared. Walking dogs on a lead also ensures people can safely keep two metres away from others.

“Livestock worrying causes appalling suffering to sheep and lambs – and during the coronavirus crisis the threat of attacks it is adding to farmers’ anxiety when they are already under immense pressure. Even if a dog doesn’t make contact, the distress and exhaustion of the chase can cause a sheep to die. Many walkers are also failing to clear up after their dog, which can spread disease to livestock.

“Some farming areas are experiencing increased numbers of walkers with dogs, with farmers having to spend additional time patrolling flocks to try and prevent attacks which is hindering them from getting on with the vital task of producing food for the nation.

“There are real concerns that high numbers of people using farmland footpaths for exercise are putting older farmers in particular at risk. Together with the farmers’ unions, we are urging people to maintain social distancing of two metres apart and not put others, including farmers, their families and other rural dwellers at risk.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

NFU Mutual’s claims figures show that livestock worth £1.2m were attacked by dogs last year.

A survey of over 1,300 dog owners commissioned by NFU Mutual* also revealed that 63% of dog owners let their pets roam free in the countryside, despite half admitting their dog doesn’t always come back when called.

NFU Mutual has produced a coronavirus guide for exercise on farmland footpaths:

The guide includes advice such as:

• Maintaining social distancing of at least two metres when out in the countryside and consider others, including farmers and their families

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

• Avoiding footpaths which go through farmyards or close to farmhouses

• Keeping to footpaths, close gates and don’t block gateways

• Always keeping dogs on the lead when walking them in rural areas where livestock are kept. Walking your dog on a lead also ensures you can safely keep two metres away from others.

• Always clearing up after your dog – their mess can spread disease to livestock

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

• Being aware that even small lap dogs can attack and kill farm animals

• Reporting attacks by dogs and sightings of dogs roaming the countryside to local farmers or the police

• Not letting dogs loose in gardens adjoining livestock fields – many attacks are caused by dogs which escape and attack sheep grazing nearby

Related topics: