‘The dog didn’t decide to come to my farm, you did’ The farmers on the ‘distress’ of losing sheep to dog attacks

A young farmer has spoken about the “big effect” losing 15 lambs in one go had on him after a dog attack on his farm.

NFU Cymru estimate that dogs attacking livestock cost farmers more than £400,000 in 2022.

Farmers hope that by sharing their experiences and raising awareness that they will be able to reduce the number of attacks this lambing season.

The farmer, who runs a sheep farm outside of Cardiff, told CJS News about the impact these attacks can have.

He said: “We had fifteen lambs killed outright, five go missing and thirty plus injured. The attack on our lambs has had a big effect on my family and my own mental health. Keep your dogs on a lead, the dog didn’t decide to come to my farm, you did.”

An injured sheep following a dog attack

As lambing season gets underway, farmers around Cardiff are concerned that these attacks will continue, unless dog owners act more responsibly when out on walks.

Another farmer from the outskirts of Cardiff claimed some dog owners do not pay attention to their surroundings in the countryside. They said that “living on the urban fringe can result in uneducated and irresponsible dog owners thinking they have the right to roam across fields with their dogs off lead and who often have no recall.”

They spoke of the trauma that sheep worrying, which includes attacking or chasing sheep, causes for the animals. “Often the ewes are not killed but injured so severely that they have to be put down.”

Kath Whitrow who is the Chair of NFU Cymru’s LFA board and a beef and sheep farmer herself said people need to understand the strain it puts on the wellbeing of farmer.

“The impact is twofold, first the mental stress. After caring for the sheep for so long, it is incredibly emotional to see the animals destroyed”, she said.

Kath Whitrow with her sheepdog on the farm

She described her personal experience of these attacks. “As an example of what we went through, we lost a few ewes to exhaustion after they’d been chased by a dog.

“It was both financially and emotionally distressing. We have a couple of attacks a year that we know about and they have a devastating effect on the farm. This is our livelihood.”

NFU Cymru Deputy President Abi Reader has advised dog owners to take care and be respectful around sheep and animals. She said dog owners “need to be responsible around livestock. This means that everybody can enjoy the countryside safely. These are people’s businesses, they’re their shop floor so we need to be able to continue to operate and continue to produce food for people. .”

Dog behaviourist Dom Burke said that the best advice he could give to dog owners is “to make sure your dog is under control when they’re in proximity to any farm animals. Any dog is capable of chasing farm animals so it’s really about making sure you have control of the dog.”