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 2022 survey are as follows:
- In line with previous survey results respondents once again reported an increase in the incidence of attacks. 76% believed cases had increased over the past three years with many identifying the increase in dog ownership during the covid-19 pandemic as a perceived cause of the rise of cases.
- Less than 5% of sheep farmers receive direct contact from the owners of dogs that have been involved in a sheep worrying attack on their livestock.
- The majority of respondents had multiple sheep worrying incidents during the past year, between one and ten, with an average financial loss of £1232 per farmer per year. However, most respondents received no or very little compensation.
- In almost 75% of cases, it is a single dog injuring or killing multiple sheep.
- Farmers reported feeling of anger, anxiety, upset, stress and frustration as a result of sheep worrying by dogs attacks with most recognising this was adversely affecting their mental health.
- Over half of the respondents experienced abuse and almost 50% were ignored by the dog owner. Some farmers even experienced personal intimidation
- 81% of survey respondents said they now report some, most or all of the attacks they experience. This increased reporting could be driving an improved response from rural police forces with survey contributors rating police response to reports as 6/10.
FG has complimented our work asking police forces for information and sheep worrying incidences via Freedom of Information requests. These findings relate closely to what we found in our annual NSA survey, showing that more farmers are reporting cases of sheep worrying by dogs. This is good news because we’ve all been asking farmers to report every case to encourage police to take these incidents seriously and to build a more accurate picture of what is happening. However, these figures are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of actual cases for several reasons: not all police forces respond to the FOI request; dog worrying cases are handled in different ways so do not always show up in the stats; and farmers do not report every incident to the police.