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NSA survey reveals impact of sheep worrying
Fifty-seven per cent of police forces said sheep worrying was their most common rural crime.
Survey finds 78 per cent of rural crime teams saw an increase in cases.

Research conducted by the National Sheep Association (NSA) has revealed that sheep worrying cases are continuing to rise, causing more animals to miscarry, become injured, or die.

The data has been released to mark Sheep Worrying Awareness Week, running from 25 March to 1 April, which raises awareness of the impact that dogs can have with sheep worrying.

A survey of police forces in the UK found that 78 per cent of rural crime teams had seen an increase in dog attacks on sheep in recent years. Fifty-seven per cent of police forces said sheep worrying was their most frequently reported rural crime.

Seventy-six per cent of rural crime forces said they responded to sheep worrying incidents at least once a month. Thirty-three per cent saying it was as often as once a week.

This was corroborated by a survey of farmers, who also said they had seen an increase in cases.

The majority of police forces surveyed said that dogs being exercised off-lead were a major contributor to incidents, as well as owners showing a lack of responsibility for the consequences of dog attacks.

NSA says that sheep worrying, where dogs chase sheep during dog walks, can do the farm animals serious harm. Sheep can be killed or seriously injured when attempting to escape a dog, and the stress can cause pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs.

Dog bites can cause death, or sheep to be put down at a later date. Where sheep survive, bites can still result in considerable veterinary bills and additional welfare issues.

However many of the police forces surveyed did claim to be confident in handling sheep worrying incidents, and encouraged farmers to report and engage with local rural crime teams.

Nicola Noble, NSA project manager, said: “Whilst the 2024 NSA survey has confirmed the concerning rise in sheep worrying by dogs cases there are clearly positive steps being made by rural crime teams to engage with dog owners in an effort to raise awareness and reduce these serious, upsetting attacks.

“By working with the police and by using warning signs for dog owners when livestock are grazing in certain fields, were recognised as the best method of deterrence and can hopefully help farmers reduce the number of attacks on their animals.”

Image © Shutterstock

 

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."