National Sheep Association has collected the experiences of farmers affected by sheep worrying through their annual survey. A copy of the full results from the survey can be downloaded below.
Key findings from the 2023 survey are as follows:
- In line with previous survey results, 70% of respondents had at least one sheep worrying incident in the last 12 months.
- Of these, 95% of them had between 1-10 occurrence in the year.
- In almost 70% of cases it's a single dog injuring or killing multiple sheep.
- Despite farmers making steps to prevent sheep worrying, through signs, moving sheep and use of social media, it’s not having an impact.
- On average incidence and severity hasn’t changed much since last year but still does not take into account production losses in sheep, including miscarriage, that were reported by almost 70% of respondents.
- Only 14% of respondents were alerted by the offending dog owner, with the majority left to discover the evidence or alerted by someone else.
- The majority of cases occur on private land, irrespective of whether there is a public right of way.
- 70% of respondents reported either verbal abuse, intimidation, being ignored or negative attitude from a dog owner when approached and asked to put their dog on a lead.
- 82% of survey respondents strongly agreed additional powers are necessary to act as a deterrent to irresponsible dog ownership.
- Farmers reported feelings of anger, frustration and upset. This year there were additional comments like 'becoming the norm' and 'expected', demonstrating the insidious frequency of sheep worrying by dogs.