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Sheep Worrying

by Greg Childs, Self Employed Contract Shepherd

Many of the fields around the village are grazed by sheep.  Sadly, there have recently been several cases of sheep worrying, which have caused injury, distress and death to sheep in the village and local area.

Sheep, deer and small mammals cause the natural instinct to appear even in the best behaved dogs.

All dog breeds have the instinct to chase, hunt and kill. Animals which see dogs as a threat don’t know the difference between the ones who are just playing and the ones who aren’t.


The term ‘worrying’ means:

  • attacking livestock;

  • chasing livestock in such a way as may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering; in the case of ewes, this includes abortion or loss or reduction in the number of offspring;

  • not having a dog on a lead or under close control when close by, or in a field or enclosure with livestock.


Dogs which do not need to be on a lead include:

  • those owned by, or in the charge of the occupier of the land, the owner of the sheep or a person authorised by these people;

  • a police dog;

  • a guide dog for the blind;

  • a trained sheep dog*;

  • a working gun dog* or one of a pack of hounds.

*a working dog needs to be clearly working at the time to be exempt.


The Damage caused by Sheep Worrying

 To the Sheep;

Stress(which often leads to death), physical injury, abortion and death

To the Shepherd;

Emotional stress(they care about their sheep, some are pets too), financial (vets bills, cost of disposal of dead sheep and lost income)

To the dog owner;

Emotional stress, prosecution, financial (compensation, fines, court costs)

To the dog;

Injury, removal from owner, shot or put down


Please follow the Countryside Code when walking your dog:

  • When you take your dog into the outdoors always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control.

  • It is always good practice to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals.

  • Keep your dog in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command.

  • Ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access.

Please remember that a farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.


Let's keep both the sheep and your dog safe!  It’s easy to keep your dog on a lead! when on farmland and remember just because there wasn’t livestock there before doesn’t mean they are not there now and also just because you think its grass doesn’t mean it’s a public park.

If you have any questions or need to report any issues regarding sheep to Greg, please contact him at  or on 07899-820999.

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