UFU says dogs must be kept under control during lambing season
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging dog owners to ensure their pets are supervised at all times when walking through the countryside, as lambing season is underway.
Saintfield farmer Cllr Robert Burgess has welcomed the call from the UFU for dog owners to keep their pets under contol in the lambing season especially.
Cllr Burgess, who has experienced dogs attacking his flock of sheep, said: “As a UFU member I fully support this public awareness call.
“Farmers are too often left picking up the costs of sheep worrying and this can be a very stressful time for farmers when they see their efforts destroyed by uncontrolled dogs.”
UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “With the weather improving and a longer stretch in the evenings, more dog owners will be wanting to enjoy the countryside for recreational activity.
“During early spring, Northern Ireland’s countryside plays home to many pregnant ewes and newborn lambs.
“Dogs should not be allowed to disturb these animals.
“I would remind all dog owners whether walking along rural roads or through the countryside next to fields and farms, that dogs must be kept under control as there is the potential for livestock worrying.
“We repeatedly issue this advice, however, it continues to be dismissed by many.
“Last week a County Armagh member fell victim to a devasting livestock worrying incident on his flock. Farmers cannot continue to tolerate this.
“There is a consensus amongst dog owners that their pet dog would not engage in such attacks, however, I would urge dog owners to remember that the desire to hunt and chase is part of any dog’s natural instinct.
“If a dog were to engage in a chase this could result in injury or death of those sheep who fall foul to the actions of irresponsible dog owners.
“Sheep that have been chased by dogs in the past and have survived, never fully recover from the attack.
“The welfare of livestock is a priority for farmers and any attack on sheep is also an attack on the farmer’s livelihood.
“The safest and most appropriate thing for all dog walkers to do is to always keep their dog(s) on a lead when out exploring the countryside.
“I cannot emphasis this enough. When dog owners do not keep their dogs on a lead and act responsibly, there are consequences.
“Farmers should report livestock worrying incidents to their local dog warden for investigation. In Northern Ireland dog wardens are employed by each of the eleven councils.”