DOG owners across Laois have been warned to keep their dogs under control as the most critical time of the year for sheep farmers approaches with the lambing season underway.
Statistics compiled from calls to an Irish Farmers Association (IFA) hotline since last year’s lambing season show that sheep flocks in Laois suffered most from dog attacks, with 155 calls logged.
National livestock chairman Henry Burns told the Leinster Express that dog attacks are a big worry for sheep farmers across the county.
“There are so many attacks happening all over the country with a few higher profile attacks. This is happening all the time and is hugely worrying. Farmers have ewes close to lambing or ewes have lambs with them in the fields. If a ewe is heavily pregnant with twins she won’t be able to run away”.
Mr Burns emphasised the importance of keeping dogs locked up, especially at night time.
“There are over 2.5 million lambs being born this year, that’s just the way it is. People have to lock in or tie up their dogs”.
He added that all dogs pose a risk at the moment and not just the bigger ones.
“The attack on our farm (late last December) was alsations but a terrier can do just as much damage, say if they pair up with a sheepdog. I’ve seen terrier dogs chasing sheep and they can chase them into drains, rivers and lakes. It is not down to the size of the dog. People have to live up to the responsibility of owning a dog”.
There are between 400 and 500 sheep farmers in Laois at the moment and many of them are mixed farmers, making the high number of dog attacks even more worrying.
IFA Sheep Chairman James Murphy said that the campaign is targeted at dog owners, making it clear they must be in control of their pets at all times.