The National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) is urging dog owners to act responsibly and keep their dogs on a lead around livestock this Easter.

The union said, with many farms in the midst of lambing season, concern over livestock attacks and animal safety has continued to grow.

Last year, NFU Mutual recorded a rise in dog owners letting their dog off the lead in UK countryside and less than half said they were able to recall their pet if necessary.

NFU Mutual research also estimated that farm animals valued at £123,000 were severely injured or killed by dogs and their irresponsible owners in Scotland in 2023, more than double the 2022 cost.

NFUS rural business policy advisor, Rhianna Montgomery, said: “If out in the countryside this weekend, it’s important to avoid livestock where possible. If this means planning your route in advance, please do so.

“Even the best behaved dogs can cause stress to livestock if the necessary steps are not taken to avoid it.

“If you come across sheep with or without lambs, ensure your dog is on a short lead as this is where you have the most control.

“If you see a livestock worrying incident, please report it immediately to the farmer.”

NFUS Forth and Clyde member, Ian Cullens, suffered a fatal attack on a sheep pregnant with twins in recent weeks.

The ewe was treated by vets following the attack but later died a week later.

Cullens did not witness the attack in person and was unable to trace the dog owner responsible.

If caught, livestock worrying is punishable by fine (maximum £40,000) or up to 12 months imprisonment.