The number of dog attacks on livestock increased by almost 50 per cent last year with the total cost of claims reported at a record level of more than £1.4 million.
Rural insurer NFU Mutual found costs more than trebled in Scotland and doubled in the Midlands, with the average cost of a claim jumping to more than £1,300 – an £800 increase on the cost before.
Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said the impact of dog attacks on livestock have become all too common.
He said: “As the insurer of nearly three-quarters of the UK’s farmers and many hobby farmers, we are sadly all too aware of the heartbreak and huge financial loss that dog attacks cause.
"For small farmers in particular, livestock worrying is devastating because it has a huge impact on their productivity.
“While insurance can cover the cost of replacing stock killed and the treatment of injured animals, there is a knock-on effect on breeding programmes that can take years to overcome.”
Please, please, keep your dogs under control when walking through the countryside. Sadly a sheep has been killed in Pott Shrigley today.— Macclesfield Police (@PoliceMacc)
Please, please, keep your dogs under control when walking through the countryside. Sadly a sheep has been killed in Pott Shrigley today.— Macclesfield Police (@PoliceMacc) February 11, 2017
Cost of claims to NFU Mutual:
2015 2016 East of England £1,666 £9,224 Midlands £24,999 £55,989 North East £7,458 £10,135 North West £28,424 £14,338 South East £14,757 £24,584 South West £34,185 £28,846 Northern Ireland £11,476 £10,568 Scotland £13,746 £51,296 Wales £17,745 £27,337 Total £154,976 £232,317
Mr price said an increase in higher individual costs of claims could be a result of an increase of attacks on pedigree and rare breed sheep.
He urged farmers to ‘watch out’ for livestock worrying, put up warning signs and ensure hedges, walls and fences are ‘properly maintained’.
It came as a farmer in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was left facing the consequences after six of his sheep were injured in a worrying incident last week.
The sheep have since all died.
“The number of incidents reported to us is a small fraction of the total, which we estimate cost the industry £1.4 million last year,” Mr Price added.
“Often, farmers do not report livestock worrying because their sheep have simply disappeared, or they cannot prove the animals' deaths or injuries were caused by dogs.”
He encouraged people to report out-of-control dogs to a local farmer or to the police, and remind any dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead.
Anyone with information of the dog worrying incident in Cumbria is urged to contact Cumbria police on 101 quoting log 81 of February 9 2017.
To request Take the Lead signs which warn dog owners to keep their pets on a lead around livestock, send a self-addressed A4 envelope with at least three first class stamps to:
FG Take the Lead, Farmers Guardian
Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park
For more information click here.