Sheep Worrying

February 20, 2014

Lambing season is approaching fast. I have been starting to make preparations for my Southdowns’ lambing next month, and farmers across the area are struggling in the face of wind, rain and mud to get ready for this important time in a stock keeper’s calendar.

It is good practice for owners to keep dogs on leads at all times when walking near livestock but it is particularly important during the spring. Our Vets at Donaldson’s have seen a rise in the numbers of attacks, the results of which may often lead to lambs being lost and sheep being killed and injured.


Even dogs which are usually calm and good natured can become very excitable and difficult to control when faced with livestock. Tragically this can lead to chasing, attacks and fatalities for sheep and other animals.


Over the coming months ewes in the field are likely to be heavily pregnant or to have recently given birth. Chasing and worrying can have severe consequences at this time, leading to serious injuries, early labour and fatalities.


Later in the season the arrival of lambs brings fresh temptation as their energy and activity can be irresistible to dogs. Dog owners in rural areas keep their dogs on leads when walking near livestock. They should also consider taking alternative routes during the lambing season to avoid causing distress.


Unfortunately, these attacks are all too common. The results of these attacks are very distressing for the sheep, the farmer and for the vet. I’ve treated sheep which have been practically shredded by dogs and there is often no choice but to put them down. At this time of year a dog attack can have drastic effects even for the ewes which are not injured, as the stress may cause them to abort.

Farmers are quite within their legal rights to shoot a dog who is worrying sheep on their land and so the consequences of your dog chasing sheep can be very serious for both the sheep and the dog.


Even the most trusted dog can suddenly chase sheep. Most owners are well meaning but if your dog is off the lead you may not even be aware of the chasing or attack. It’s important to know where your dog is at all times as they can cause a lot of damage in a short time.

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