Dog owners are being urged to take more responsibility this autumn by keeping their pets under control around pregnant livestock.
Tupping and mating happens at this time of year when ewes and cows get more worried and stressed which can lead to early abortion. Bulls and rams can also be more agitated during this period.
The National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) ‘Love your Countryside’ campaign is highlighting the issue to make the public more aware that extra care should be taken when out walking with dogs.
Charles Sercombe, the NFU’s livestock board chairman, said: “Farms are working environments and farmers always think very carefully about where they keep their livestock at this time of the year. So if you’re out walking your dog please be sympathetic especially to those animals rearing their young and give them space.
“When walking with dogs in fields with livestock, the advice is to keep your dog close, under effective control, and on a short lead. If you feel threatened release your dog so you can both get to safety separately.
“Remember that our animals are our livelihood and we can’t risk having them distressed, hurt or killed by dogs with irresponsible owners.”
John Blackwell, president of the British Veterinary Association, added his voice to the warning, saying: “The very presence of an unfamiliar dog in a field of livestock will immediately put the stock on alert, and this will be even more so if they are free ranging.
“It can also have some quite nasty consequences to enter a field of cattle with a dog, as the perceived threat can escalate to a situation when the cows go into maternal protective mode and charge to try and remove the threat.”