Competition asks children to design sheep worrying signs

Farming groups have highlighted the seriousness of livestock worrying for years
Farming groups have highlighted the seriousness of livestock worrying for years

A new children’s competition has been launched to help raise awareness to dog walkers on the serious and devastating issue of sheep worrying.

Children in three age groups; under eight, eight to 12 and 13 to 16, will design a sign suitable to be displayed on fence posts on farmland.

The signs will remind dog walkers to keep their pet on a lead when walking in areas where sheep may be present.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has launched the competition as part of its continued work to highlight the issue of sheep worrying by dogs.

Livestock worrying is a serious issue for farmers across the country, often resulting in injuries and even death of affected sheep.

The stress experienced by sheep following chasing or physical attacks can also have devastating consequences, with pregnant ewes at risk of miscarrying their unborn lambs.

And it is not just the physical injuries to sheep that make the issue of serious concern to the sector, with farmers reporting that their mental wellbeing has been compromised due to the worry of attacks happening.

For many years, farming bodies have highlighted the seriousness of this issue and have taken actions such as supplying free farm signs to sheep farmers.

Figures show that the cost of livestock worrying increased by over 10% to £1.3m last year as the pandemic saw a surge in people visiting the countryside.

NSA communications officer Katie James said it was hoped that the children's posters would help convey the seriousness of the issue even more.

“It is hard to ignore a plea from a child," she said, "We therefore hope our new competition could create a resource that catches the public’s eye.

"[It will] show them, through the eyes of children, the devastation that could take place if they fail to keep their dogs under control and on a lead when near livestock.

"All at NSA look forward to receiving entries from farm kids who may have been themselves affected by the issue but also from any children keen to help attacks on sheep from happening.”

To assist children wishing to take part in the competition, NSA has produced a downloadable template to use for their design either through drawing and colouring by hand or by using IT design skills.

Once completed the posters should be emailed to or posted to National Sheep Association, the Sheep Centre, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 6PH.

Entries to the competition close on Wednesday 20 October 2021.