A west Dorset farmer is urging farmers to keep dogs on leads to protect livestock during the Easter period.

Cameron Farquharson, who owns animals on Eggardon Hill near Bridport, is urging dog owners to be extra vigilant this Easter – a time when sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable due to lambing season.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

He said: “Everyone should celebrate the countryside but it’s a big concern with young livestock such as ewes and lambs as it’s a busy time with lambing and calving going on.

“It’s anxiety at the end of the day. This time of year, it’s always a busy time especially with the climate of wet weather since October it has been a hard year on the grounds.

"Now we’ve got Easter holidays coming up, locals and holidaymakers might let their dogs out and not know we’ve got young stock in these fields.”

Mr Farquharson's concerns follow recent data from NFU Mutual which revealed that death and injuries to livestock have cost farmers an estimated £359,000 in the south west of England in 2023 – an increase of 31 per cent from the previous year.

And a survey the NFU conducted of more than 1,100 dog owners found that 68 per cent of them let their dogs off leads in the countryside in 2023 compared to 64 per cent in 2022.

Mr Farquharson has previously lost some of his livestock in dog attacks including four pregnant sheep and another three later in the same month, which caused him “unsustainable losses”.

READ MORE: Farmer Cameron Farquharson's sheep killed on National Trust land

In 2021 Mr Farquharson's Highland cow Gladis was killed by an off-lead dog, which prompted him to start a national campaign to give farm animals greater protection by making it mandatory to keep dogs restrained.

The current bill is currently going through the second committee stage and Mr Farquharson is hopeful it will progress to the next stage soon.  

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Cameron Farquharson with Gladys in 2020 Picture: Isobel Farquharson

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Amidst his worries about the effects of dogs off the lead on livestock, he is also concerned for horse riders and cyclists, who he claims are being chased by dogs off leads.

Mr Farquharson added: “We’ve now got a lot of people with no idea how to handle a dog. We get a lot of hassle on the hill with dogs attacking joggers or horse ridersl so it’s not just livestock being chased.

“The message I would say is come and enjoy the countryside but please keep dogs on leads and under control when walking through fields of cows or livestock.”