RASCS News

Protecting Our Flocks: The Importance of Responsible Dog Ownership During Lambing Season

As the spring season unfolds across the United Kingdom, fields come alive with the sights and sounds of new life. It’s lambing time, a crucial period for farmers as they welcome newborn lambs into the world. However, amidst this season of renewal, there’s a shadow looming over our rural landscapes – the menace of sheep worrying by dogs.

Sheep worrying, a term used to describe the attack, chasing, or harassment of sheep by dogs, is a persistent problem for farmers, particularly during lambing season. The consequences can be devastating, with sheep suffering injuries, miscarriages, or even death. Beyond the immediate impact on individual animals, sheep worrying causes immense distress to farmers who work tirelessly to care for their flocks.

The responsibility to prevent sheep worrying falls not only on farmers but also on members of the public who own dogs. Here are some essential steps that dog owners can take to ensure they are doing their part to protect our precious flocks:

  1. Keep Dogs on a Lead: When walking near farmland, always keep your dog on a lead, especially during lambing season. Even well-behaved dogs can be unpredictable in the presence of livestock, and a momentary lapse in control can lead to tragic consequences.
  2. Respect Signs and Boundaries: Many farmers use signs to indicate when dogs should be kept on a lead or prohibited entirely. Respect these signs and adhere to any designated paths or boundaries. They are there to protect both your dog and the livestock.
  3. Supervise Outdoor Activities: If you live in a rural area or have access to open fields, ensure your dog is under close supervision at all times when outdoors. Dogs have a natural instinct to chase, and even the most obedient pets can become excited by the sight of livestock.
  4. Train and Socialise Your Dog: Proper training and socialisation are essential for any dog, but they are particularly crucial for preventing sheep worrying. Teach your dog basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it,” and expose them to various environments and situations from an early age.
  5. Secure Your Property: If you live on or near farmland, ensure your property is securely fenced to prevent your dog from wandering onto neighbouring land. Check for any gaps or weaknesses in existing fences and take steps to address them promptly.
  6. Educate Others: Spread awareness about the importance of responsible dog ownership, particularly during lambing season. Encourage fellow dog owners to take proactive measures to prevent sheep worrying and emphasize the impact that their actions can have on farmers and their livelihoods.
  7. Report Incidents: If you witness or suspect sheep worrying by dogs, report it to the relevant authorities immediately. Time is of the essence in such situations, and prompt action can help prevent further harm to livestock.

By taking these simple yet crucial steps, members of the public can play a significant role in reducing the incidence of sheep worrying and protecting the welfare of our flocks during lambing season. Together, let’s ensure that this springtime tradition remains a joyous occasion for farmers and communities across the UK.

#ProtectOurFlocks #ResponsibleDogOwnership #LambingSeasonAwareness