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What Is Livestock Worrying and How Can Responsible Dog Ownership Prevent It?

Livestock worrying is when loose dogs chase or attack farmed animals and it is a serious problem. Even well-behaved dogs can exhibit predatory behaviour around livestock like sheep or cows. This behaviour can cause the animals to become extremely stressed or injured, and can be fatal.

The Impact Livestock Worrying

Livestock worrying isn't just a risk to animal welfare; it causes significant distress and financial losses to farmers. Here's how loose dogs can negatively impact livestock:

  • Physical exertion and heightened distress from the animals attempting to run away
  • The mere presence of a predatory animal may be enough to cause stress
  • Livestock may become injured 
  • Pregnant ewes losing their lambs due to stress
  • Separation of mothers and young, leading to hypothermia or starvation 

Farmers also suffer consequences:

  • Emotional distress witnessing livestock worrying.
  • Costly veterinary bills or the loss of livestock.
  • Legal Implications of Dog Attacks on Livestock
Legal Implications:

The Dogs Protection of Livestock Act (1953) makes it an offence to allow a dog to worry livestock, and can be punished with a fine of up to £1000.  The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill (currently under review), seeks to increase penalties and police powers around livestock worrying. It would also protect camelids like alpacas and llamas.

Responsible Dog Ownership:

Responsible dog ownership is crucial to prevent livestock worrying. Always keep dogs under control and on a lead around livestock, even if you believe they are well-trained. Good training can also help prevent dogs from showing predatory behaviour around other animals.

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