Jacob Anthony: Carnage of dog attack sours farm festivities

A new year and a new decade are surely cause for a bit of optimism and excitement?

That’s the attitude I try to start my January off with, and this year will be no different.  

I will be glad to see the back of the 2019 Christmas season. We had a rather ugly and distressing episode during the festive period – a dog attack on our sheep.

The death toll is now over 30, without the casualties of unborn lambs that ewes were carrying.

It was hugely upsetting as we take great pride in caring for our flock and something like this is completely out of our control.

See also: What to do if you’re a victim of… sheep worrying

Sadly, sheep worrying is becoming more and more common.

We have no issue with people enjoying the beautiful British countryside and using public footpaths as long as they follow the rules and keep dogs on leads at all times.  

It has been encouraging to see the likes of the National Sheep Association and NFU trying to raise awareness of sheep worrying with various campaigns.

Sometimes I feel we are preaching to the converted and banging our heads against a brick wall.

In the aftermath, we decided to share a post on social media, showing the images of our dead sheep laying in the field after the attack.

Stupid quips

We did this to not only try to get the message across to whoever owns the dog that caused the carnage here, but also to try to shock people into realising the importance of keeping dogs under control when around sheep.

Within a matter of hours, the Facebook post was shared and commented on hundreds of times.

There was a great deal of people fully in support and appearing to take on the message, but there was a small and very vocal element who did not.

Some of the comments just highlighted the gap between those who understand the countryside (and want to understand it) and those who do not.

We had some very stupid quips on there, ranging from “a fox did that” to “looks like a big cat to me”, with one person even suggesting that aliens could be the culprits.

At least these were laughable, what was not so laughable were when the vegan community decided to get involved.

Next thing we knew there where suggestions of neglect and the classic of “they are only bred for slaughter anyway”.

These were very infuriating to read, but just go to show what farmers are up against.

If I could share one New Year message with the public, it would be that they understand the loss of livestock to us is not just a financial hit, but a hugely emotional one too.

As an industry, we all strive to give our animals the best lives we can.