With the devastating issue of sheep worrying by dogs continuing to affect sheep farmers and their flocks across the UK, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is preparing to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the problem.

Traditionally, the NSA has held a week-long campaign each spring highlighting the subject of sheep worrying by dogs, alongside its year-round work to tackle the problem.

However, with cases increasing at an alarming rate, the sheep farming charity will run a series of online activites over an extended period of two weeks this year, in an effort to have a greater impact on the important messaging of responsible dog ownership needed to protect sheep flocks.

The NSA will launch its 2021 campaign, titled #LeadOn on Friday, April 30, by releasing the latest results from its farmers' survey.

The survey has broken all previous NSA survey records for the number of respondents sharing their experiences of attacks on their flocks during the past year, an early indication of the shocking scale of the problem.

Increase in sheep worrying

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, commented:

"Sheep farmers across the UK have suffered an increase in sheep worrying attacks by dogs over the past year, as dog ownership has increased and walking in the countryside has become one of the few activities to be enjoyed during lockdown – but dog owners must be responsible for their pet.

The NSA is committed to ensuring the general public develops a better understanding of the stress and suffering that any dog, no matter its breed, can cause to sheep by barking, chasing and attacking them. It is a serious animal welfare issue that puts both sheep and much loved pets at risk."

The two-week long campaign will include: social media activity; webinars; workshops; new online case studies; and content on the NSA website, to help both sheep farmers in reducing the risk of attacks happening on-farm, and the general public in preventing their dogs from being involved in sheep worrying attacks.

It is hoped that the campaign hashtag #LeadOn will be recognised as an encouragement to dog owners to be responsible, and act as an example to others by keeping their pets on leads in the presence of livestock.