The NFU has launched a campaign to cut the number of dog attacks on livestock after cases of sheep and cattle worrying reached record levels.

About £1m-worth of damage was caused on farms last year after more than 700 attacks by dogs on livestock.

The number of people being killed or injured after being trampled by cows has also shown an increase in recent years.

The rising number of incidents has led the NFU to launch its ‘Love your Countryside’ campaign to explain how to enjoy the countryside responsibly.

Setting out simple guidelines for the 3.6bn tourists who visit the British countryside each year, the campaign offers tips to keep people and livestock safe.

Advice includes avoiding getting between cows and their calves and keeping any dogs close and under control around sheep and cattle.

Dog walkers should also let go of their dogs if they felt threatened by cattle.

Surrey farmer and NFU South East livestock board member Hugh Broom, who lost 60 sheep over three months, said livestock worrying was entirely preventable.

“Many owners do act responsibly and control their dogs, but when they don’t the consequences can be awful,” he said.

“Attacks on our animals cause untold suffering and horrendous injuries, which often results in them having to be put down. 

“We must work to help people understand the damage that can be done as sadly, with more and more attacks happening, the message doesn’t seem to be hitting home with some dog owners.”

Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, said it was important vistoris to the countryside were mindful of their surroundings and took care.

“The countryside is a beautiful place to walk in, however it is maintained this way because it is working environment where animals graze,” he said. 

“Farmers also have a responsibility as to the safety of the animals in the fields and they take that responsibility seriously.  

“But we would urge anyone using the countryside to be sympathetic to farm animals rearing their young and give them space.”

Last year the National Sheep Association set up a service to record incidents of sheep worrying by dogs in an effort to highlight areas of incidence encourage responsible behaviour by dog owners.

The database recorded more than 100 calls in its first three weeks.

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