As part of its ongoing work to highlight the serious and devastating issue of sheep worrying by dogs the National Sheep Association (NSA) has launched its annual survey on the topic to gain an up-to-date insight on its continued severity and impact on the UK sheep industry.
Sheep worrying incidents by dogs cause significant welfare concerns for sheep and serious upset to sheep farmers whose flocks are affected.
To continue to raise awareness of these incidents and find ways of improving education, guidance and cooperation NSA is inviting all UK sheep farmers, whether they have experienced issues with sheep worrying or not, to contribute to the survey that will be open until March 25.
The survey can be completed on the NSA website by visiting www.sheepworrying.org.uk.
NSA policy and technical officer, Sean Riches said: “NSA receives calls from distressed sheep farmers who have experienced attacks on their flocks on a very regular basis.
“As a nation of animal lovers, it is difficult to comprehend how these devastating attacks are allowed to continue. This is a serious welfare issue, where sheep are regularly subjected to threats by dogs who chase and cause physical harm.”
The 2022 survey is launched at an especially significant time for UK sheep flocks when many ewes are in the final stages of pregnancy or have young vulnerable lambs at foot meaning the risk of miscarriage or mis-mothering due to stress from a sheep worrying attack is increased.
Recent changes in legislation have been proposed to try and tackle the issue but NSA believes these do not go far enough, failing to contain sufficient deterrents to prevent attacks happening and while in Scotland the legislation has been strengthened, NSA feels there is an increased need for dog owner education to reinforce the unpredictable behaviour of even a well-trained dog.