NFU launches ‘Love Your Countryside’ campaign
NewsTuesday 02 July 2013
The number of dog attacks on livestock are rising and hitting record levels. In the wake of these figures, the NFU is now urging the public to be more responsible when visiting the countryside.
These figures have shown that there were more than 700 cases of sheep and cattle worrying on farms around the UK last year, which ended up costing farmers an estimated £1 million.
We have also seen people being killed or injured in incidents involving people being trampled by herds of cows.
In response to these figures, the NFU has launched its Love Your Countryside campaign, which is highlighting how you can enjoy the countryside responsibly. It also shows how you can keep safe when you are out and about walking in fields full of livestock.
The British countryside is visited by around 3.6 billion tourists every year. Walkers are making up 18% of all visitors to rural areas and they are being urged to take on board some simple safety tips in order to stay safe and protect livestock.
Hugh Broom is a farmer who runs Sondes Place Farm, a 320 acre mixed farm near Dorking, Surrey. He is a board member at the NFU South East livestock department and has lost 60 sheep over a three-month period.
Speaking on the NFU official website, he said that dog attacks on his livestock are not rare.
He said: “Livestock worrying is completely unnecessary and really is totally preventable. Many owners do act responsibly and control their dogs, however, when they don’t the consequences can be awful.
“Attacks on our animals cause untold suffering and horrendous injuries, which often results in them having to be put down.
“We must work to help people understand the damage that can be done as sadly, with more and more attacks happening, the message doesn’t seem to be hitting home with some dog owners.
Charles Sercombe is the NFU livestock board chairman and he has said that walkers in the countryside only need to follow a few simple guidelines.
He went on to say:“The countryside is a beautiful place to walk in. However, it is maintained this way because it is working environment where animals graze, so it’s important to take care and be mindful of your surroundings.
“When walking with dogs in fields with cattle, the advice is to avoid getting between cows and their calves and to keep any dogs close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep. You should not hang onto your dog if you are threatened by cattle though - let it go, as the cattle will chase the dog.
“Farmers also have a responsibility as to the safety of the animals in the fields and they take that responsibility seriously.
“But we would urge anyone using the countryside to be sympathetic to farm animals rearing their young and give them space.”