Livestock worrying addressed at NFU conference

The board chairman of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Charles Sercombe, has called on police forces to investigate incidents on livestock worrying (the act of causing distress to livestock) and to prosecute those who act irresponsibly. 

Sercombe is expected to address the situation at the Sheepwatch UK event in Loughborough this today (Friday 3 June), where he will recommend to the farming community what they can do to reduce incidents.

“Livestock worrying has a devastating impact on animal welfare and farm businesses,” said Sercombe.

“We need to continually reiterate to the public, as part of our Love Your Countryside campaign, that there is the ever-increasing need for vigilance and to take responsibility for their dogs, to prevent straying and to keep them under control when walking near livestock.”

Sercombe said farmers needed to be very mindful of how challenging it was to pursue an incident, due to the difficulty in gathering evidence. “However, I would by no means say in some cases this isn’t necessary. All too often we hear about repeat cases of worrying, where dog owners allow their pet to roam free around livestock. Let’s be clear, this is wholly unacceptable and these cases must be addressed by the authorities.

“We would urge farmers to speak to their local police force if they are encountering problems and to find out what can be done to prevent cases of livestock worrying. Farmers should also explore with their local police how they gather evidence and only in the last resort should farmers consider shooting the dog.”

In light of recent occurrences, the NFU has been working to promote responsible dog ownership in the presence of livestock.

“This year has seen the launch of new dog signs to remind the public to keep their dogs on a lead and there is a business guide, which details to farmers what options they have when an incident occurs,” added Sercombe. “We hope these, along with the other initiatives like the event this week, will decrease this growing problem in livestock farms.”

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