Keeping your pet safe around livestock
For lots of people, taking a stroll in the countryside with a four legged friend is one of life’s little pleasures. Lots of routes go through working farms, either over grazing land, arable or even across a busy farmyard itself. Whilst the surroundings are beautiful, farms can be dangerous places and it is important to know how to keep you and your dog safe.
• Plan your route and stick to it
o routes through farmland will be waymarked. Try and stick to planned routes, as working farms can be dangerous places. Going off the path may put your pet at risk.
o Take a look in a field before you enter it and try and work out which animals are present.
o Cows with calves will be protective of their offspring. If you have a dog with you they might more interested. Generally they will just watch you and leave you be, unless they feel threatened. Never put yourself between a calf and cow.
o Sometimes groups of cows may run towards you. Although this looks like a stampede, they are most likely just being playful and nosy. Stay calm and walk quickly through the field.
o Walk around a herd, rather than going through it.
o If you notice any livestock in distress, try and alert the farmer rather than helping them yourself.
o Even if you feel your dog has excellent recall and behaviour, you can never be 100% sure how they will react around farm animals. Adopt a ‘safe rather than sorry’ approach and put them on a lead. Sheep chased by dogs can miscarry lambs, suffer shock and die. Sometimes dogs may even attack and savage a sheep.
o The only time you should let go of the lead is if you are challenged by cows. In this instance you and your pet will be safer if they are free to outrun the animals.
• Read the signs
o Farmers tend to put up signs to warn of a bull in the field, or if there are lambing ewes present. They will also use signs to notify you if the field has been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals that could prove harmful to your pet.
Please don't forget that Avian Influenza has not completely disappeared. If you see warning signs, please take a minute to read and abide by them.