WE all love to see livestock grazing our land and this time of year is extra special - lambs and calves are out and about, enjoying the first gentle rays of sunshine.

It is a busy and stressful time for farmers, but one that also brings great joy.

Our farmers love their animals, care for them and have their absolute welfare at heart.

It is central to what they do.

How devastating is it then to come out to the field and find that those animals you have lovingly raised and cared for have been savagely attacked?

Words will never be able to describe the horror, frustration and upset such scenes cause.

On top of the emotional strain, livestock attacks are also costly, bad for both sheep and dog welfare and can have long-term impacts on a farm business.

Losses caused by dog attacks include abortions, loss of breeding stock and the cost of both veterinary bills and carcase disposal.

We have been lobbying hard to see that the police have greater powers to deal with attacks on livestock and we continue to stress the importance of strong enforcement in preventing attacks.

Sadly, such incidents remain an issue for our members and we have repeatedly documented the wide-reaching damage that dog attacks can cause.

The good news is that data from North Wales Police has shown some signs of improvement and there has been a reduction in livestock attacks reported in recent years.

However, there were still 284 cases of livestock attacks between 2107-2019 in North Wales alone, which is unsustainable.

At present, the industry can only react to incidents of livestock worrying and, without proper enforcement, appropriate penalties and measures to identify problem dogs, it is difficult to see how this significant problem can be reduced in the longer-term.

Amongst other issues, the FUW continues to press for a DNA database which would collect dog DNA from an injured or killed sheep and allow it to be matched to a particular dog.

Alongside such measures is the need for powers which allow police to enter homes to search for suspect dogs.

The issues behind dog worrying are complex and it is frustrating that, despite significant industry investment, many members of the public still remain unaware that their family pet can attack, injure or kill livestock.

So, to help reduce incidents even further, we ask that dog owners check on their dogs and make sure that they know where their dog is at all times and that dog walkers keep dogs on a lead around livestock.

It is also important that our farmers make sure that they report every single attack on their livestock as this data provides invaluable support to FUW lobbying on this issue.



Farmers' Union of Wales