Dog attacks on livestock – the true cost

16 March 2022

Livestock Rural crime
An image of a boxer-labrador cross dog being walked on a lead through a field of sheep

NFU Mutual data shows that the claims costs of dog attacks on farm animals rose to more than £1.5 million in 2021. See how the NFU is working to tackle this growing issue.

The value of claims totalled £266,000 in the South East, with the figures also high in the Midlands (£242,000) and the South West (£228,000).

NFU Mutual is calling on all dog owners to keep them on the lead around livestock and for the public to report all attacks and sightings of loose dogs to the police or farmers.

It has also asked people living in properties that back onto grazing fields not to leave their dogs unsupervised, as a significant proportion of attacks are by pets that escape.

“There’s a new generation of dog owners whose pandemic puppies are coming of age, and they simply don’t know how their dog is going to behave around livestock."
NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Rebecca Davidson

Dogs off leads

A survey of 1,200 British dog owners commissioned by NFU Mutual found that three-quarters of them let their dogs roam free in the countryside, up from 64% in a similar survey a year ago.

Just under half admitted their dogs did not always come back when called.

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Rebecca Davidson said: “There’s a new generation of dog owners whose pandemic puppies are coming of age, and they simply don’t know how their dog is going to behave around livestock.

“And behind the figures, these horrific attacks are causing unbearable suffering to farm animals and anxiety for farmers as they deal with the aftermath.

“We want people to enjoy the countryside, and we recognise the huge benefit it brings to people’s wellbeing. We’re simply asking for people to keep their dogs under control and on a lead."

NFU campaigning

We are continuing to campaign for tougher deterrents and a clear rule that dogs must be on a lead around livestock. Last year we saw a significant victory when years of campaigning led to changes to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill that will give more power to the police to tackle livestock worrying incidents, and expand the scope of what is afforded protection.

Read more about this from June 2021: NFU welcomes new powers to tackle dog attacks on livestock

Countryside Code Livestock worrying Sheep

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