UFU calls for tougher stance on livestock worrying

Sheep after attack by dogs
Sheep after attack by dogs

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has met government and other officials to highlight its concerns about livestock worrying and to underline the importance of tackling this in a speedy and effective way.

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt says this is a serious and ongoing issue for farmers. Across the UK, it cost the industry £1.6 million in 2017.

“This is a deep frustration for farmers and it is as an animal welfare issue as well as an economic one. The sight of livestock that have been attacked is sickening. We need to ensure more is done to educate the public about how serious this is,” said Mr Chestnutt.

The UFU welcomed the recent prosecution of a dog owner whose animals attacked livestock, adding the courts and others must recognise the distress and suffering from livestock worrying.

“The distress for farmers and livestock is obvious. Costs come from the loss of stock, the loss of the future value of lambs and the associated veterinary and other costs for animals that are attacked. The stress of escaping a worrying attack can result in the flock as a whole failing to thrive or flourish and can take months for the flock to recover,” said the UFU deputy president.

The UFU has backed proposals from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) to tackle the increase in livestock worrying. These include a database of dog DNA to help police catch dogs responsible for livestock worrying and new powers to allow the PSNI to seize dogs that repeatedly worry livestock.

“We want to see all owners having to report attacks on livestock. We also want to see it made compulsory that dog owners take steps to prevent their dog escaping and for all dogs to be on a lead when visiting countryside with livestock. These may sound like tough measures, but they are necessary to curb this problem,” said Mr Chestnutt.