With Easter set to see an increase in visitors to the countryside, NFU Mutual is reminding dog-owners to be extra vigilant at a time when sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable.

The warning comes as deaths and injuries to livestock cost farmers an estimated £359,000 in the South West of England in 2023, up 31% from the previous year, latest figures from NFU Mutual reveal.

One Devon farmer says he has lost up to 80 ewes and lambs to dog attacks, and thinks dog licenses should be reintroduced. Across the UK, the estimated cost of livestock worrying soared by nearly 30% to £2.4 million last year.

NFU Mutual’s recent survey of over 1,100 dog owners found more people were letting their dogs off leads in the countryside last year than in 2022, 68% and 64% respectively*.

Worryingly, less than half (49%) said their pet always comes back when called.