Spate of Livestock Worrying Incidents in Recent Weeks

Public urged to keep their dogs under control when out and about during festive period

As many get out and about over the festive period to enjoy the countryside, NFU Scotland is urging dog owners to keep their pets under control.

The warning comes after a spate of attacks in the Lothians in recent weeks, with five livestock worrying incidents reported since the beginning of November in Penicuik, Roslin and Gorebridge areas.

Farmers are also being encouraged to report incidents to police, and to note down as much detail as possible, when incidents occur, or when there are any ‘near misses’.

Many members of the public don’t realise that if their dog is found to be worrying livestock, the owner could be prosecuted.

NFU Scotland has stepped up its activity this year on livestock worrying, engaging further with Police Scotland, as well as taking part in various initiatives to raise awareness within the public.

Kerry Clark, NFU Scotland's Regional Manager for Lothians and Borders, recommended:

“It is very disappointing that despite the extensive awareness raising that has taken place in recent months on this issue, a small minority of the public continue to allow their dogs to worry sheep.

“NFU Scotland strongly supports a robust approach to this issue, including prosecution of irresponsible dog owners. The worrying of livestock by domestic dogs can have a very damaging impact on the livelihoods of farmers, as well as cause significant and unnecessary distress to the animals themselves.

“Anyone walking their dog in the countryside should ensure they are familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and also ensure their dogs are adequately controlled so that they are unable to cause distress or injury to farm animals.”

Sergeant Michele Lindsay from Penicuik Police Station commented: “Livestock worrying is not just when a dog chases or attacks an animal, but can also be when a dog is in close proximity to livestock. This can cause sheep to panic and flee, resulting in serious injury or death. As well as the distress and harm caused to the animals, these incidents have both a financial and emotional impact on the farmer that is completely avoidable.

“Dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that they are in control of their dogs at all times and should avoid fields with livestock, where possible. Where livestock are unavoidable, dogs should always be kept under close control, preferably on a short lead. Remember that even if they are usually very obedient, it’s every dog’s instinct to chase and they don’t understand the impact of this – but you do.

“It’s important that dog walkers prepare to meet livestock whenever they’re walking in the countryside, even if its routes they’ve travelled before as livestock tend to be moved with the seasons.

“Talk to us for any advice on this issue, as officers will be carrying out rural patrols over the festive period. Please be assured that any incidents of livestock worrying will be robustly dealt with, and offenders reported to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Farm Manager John Davidson of Penicuik Estate said:  
“Penicuik Estate is a working farm and, while we welcome the public, users need to be aware that livestock can be grazing in any of our fields. Sadly, over the last six weeks, we have had four separate incidents resulting in the death or severe injury of sheep. It is of great concern that we cannot graze our own livestock without fear that they will come to harm. We are urging people not only to keep their own dogs under control at all times, but to stay vigilant and report other people who do not.”

Notes to Editors

  • A photograph of NFU Scotland and Police Scotland at Penicuik Estate is available by emailing


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 278/16

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