by Sarah Carr
A farmer has slammed Historic England for its delayed response to an application for new fencing after a dog attack on his pregnant ewes.
Andrew Reid of Bishops Court Farm, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, said he was frustrated after one of his sheep was mauled and another had been led to lamb early following the attack earlier this week.
The two dogs involved had been allowed to run free by their owner who had ‘ignored basic countryside rules and dog management’.
He said Historic England’s lack of decision to replace existing fencing was to blame.
“I continue to be shocked by dog owners who allow their dogs to run free in close proximity to ewes in lamb, and in our case well off the designated public footpaths,” he said.
“We have been pushing Historic England to agree an application to replace existing old fencing with new fencing for over four months now, but unfortunately the delayed response has cost us.
Since Mr Reid had bought the 122 ha (303 acres) of land last the autumn, fencing and other land improvements had been required in many places, including where the attack took place.
He said educating the public had ‘always been important’ and developed his north London farm, Belmont farm, for the public to visit.
The farm aims to introduce the wider public to the farming community and ‘bridge the gap’ between people and farming.
He said: “Even those not involved in farming know that this is the time of year sheep lamb, and I believe we need to educate and engage the public about the impact of sheep worrying.
“We would encourage signage at each point of entry of footpaths, explaining about the land, the risks and creating an understanding and cooperation.”
However, he highlighted some difficulties he faced previously to the attack when trying to influence responsible dog ownership: “We are currently working with The Woodland Trust to put 3km (1.8 miles) of hedging and new trees on the farm, and we have signs requesting people respect the countryside code, including keeping their dogs under control.
“Unfortunately, a number of these have been ripped down, and fence posts cut.”
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.