The NFU is urging dog walkers to keep pets under control around livestock this autumn.
The NFU’s Love Your Countryside campaign aims to make people aware of the extra care necessary when walking with dogs. Late autumn is when ewes (female sheep) go to the ram (male sheep) to be mated, in order to produce lambs next spring. But if a dog runs freely around a field, a ewe can be frightened and suffer an early abortion, losing her unborn lambs.
Sussex NFU Adviser James Osman, himself a farmer, said: “If you’re out walking this autumn, keep your dog close, under effective control and on a short lead.
“Remember that our livelihoods depend on our farm animals being happy and productive and we can’t risk livestock being distressed, hurt or even killed by dogs running wild and chasing them. So, be responsible by following a few simple do’s and don’ts in the Countryside Code and back British farming.”
President of the British Veterinary Association John Blackwell said: “We need to be sure that our dogs are under control particularly around livestock. The very presence of an unfamiliar dog in a field of livestock will immediately put the stock on alert.”