Tips for farmers to avoid livestock worrying

The aftermath of a dog attack on a flock of sheep can be upsetting for livestock farmers.

For smaller farms in particular, livestock worrying is a significant problem because it has a huge impact on their productivity. While insurance can cover the cost of replacing stock killed and the treatment of injured animals, there is a knock-on effect on breeding programmes that can take years to overcome.

The good news is there are steps farmers can take to help prevent attacks on livestock:

  • Check stock regularly in case any have been attacked
  • When possible keep sheep in fields away from footpaths
  • Put up signs warning dog owners to keep their pets under control on your land
  • Maintain fences, walls and hedges to make it more difficult for dogs to get into grazing fields
  • Report any attacks to the police immediately
  • Ask neighbours to alert you if they see attacks or loose dogs near your livestock

The cost of livestock worrying

An NFU Mutual survey* revealed that over 80% of dog owners exercise their pets in the countryside, with over 60% letting them roam off the lead. Almost 7% of owners admitted that their pets had chased livestock in the past.

Claims figures show the cost of dog attacks on livestock reported to NFU Mutual rose by 67% across the UK between 2015 and 2017. The average cost of a claim rose by over 50% to nearly £1,300.

The number of incidents reported to NFU Mutual shows only part of the picture, as not all farmers have insurance in place to cover livestock worrying and based on claims to us, we estimate the cost to agriculture was £1.6 million last year.

*Petbuzz Market Research surveyed 1,002 UK pet owners from Thursday 25 January-Thursday 1 February 2018