dogs on lead sign© Tim Scrivener

Sheep worrying by dogs has caused the death of more than 1,200 sheep this year, new figures reveal.

The figures, obtained by SheepWatch UK, show that attacks on sheep by dogs remain high, despite a number of police awareness campaigns by livestock farmers, police forces and the media.

The figures do not include lambs killed in dog attacks, which are recorded separately.

See also: Your legal rights on shooting dogs on your land

This week, a sheep had to be put down after a dog attack on a farm in the Great Asby area, near Appleby, Cumbria.

Sheep farmer Phil Andrew said his father was forced to shoot dead a loose dog that was terrifying his flock in Yeadon, North Yorkshire, on 24 November.

Mr Andrew posted a message on behalf of his father on SheepWatch UK’s Facebook site.

“The dog had cornered two sheep between a wall and a tree, as I got closer I saw the blood on the ground,” it read.

“The dog had no collar on and I was unable to catch the dog. I shot the dog with one single shot killing it instantly.

“I contacted the police and brought the dog back with me. If there were three witnesses why did they not shout at the dog or attempt to catch it.

“The dog had at least 20 minutes chasing my sheep. They are so traumatised I have been unable to get close to them but two have aborted already.”

Mr Andrew said it was first time his father had shot a dog in 10 years, but insisted he had no other option because the the dog was off the lead and out of control.

Report attacks

Terena Plowright, founder of SheepWatch UK, urged farmers to report dog attacks on sheep to help her build up a picture of scale of the problem.

“I want to make sure that every dead sheep of 2016 is recorded and every farmer that has to deal with it is being given a voice,” she said.

“If anyone has had any sheep killed by dogs or had sheep attacked and needing to be destroyed or had to shoot or destroy a dog for attacking sheep, we need to hear from you before the end of the year please’.” 

To report sheep worrying incidents to Sheep Watch UK, either fill in a form online at the website Sheepwatch UK  website or email TerenaPlowright@gmail.com

Please state:

  1. Town or postcode
  2. How many sheep in field
  3. How many killed.
  4. How many injured.
  5. How much did vet cost
  6. Did you have signs up.
  7. What type of fencing
  8. Breed of dogs attacking
  9. Was a dog killed
  10. Was the dog with an owner or alone or you did not see it. 

Include any additional information which you feel may be helpful.

Cost of sheep worrying

According to NFU Mutual, the scale of the problem is believed to be much bigger.

The rural insurer estimates that more than 18,500 livestock were killed or injured in dog attacks in 2015. The cost of this to farmers was an estimated £1.1m – up 35% on the previous year.