As the tentative first signs of spring are becoming visible in the valleys, the Lake District National Park Authority is urging people to take care around livestock.
For Lake District farmers this is a very busy period as lambing time looms. But during the last months of pregnancy it’s more important than ever to make sure that dogs are kept on lead around sheep as it’s not uncommon for a lamb to abort due to the stress of being chased by a dog, or worse still attacked by a dog.
Lake District National Park Authority’s Farming Officer, Andrea Meanwell comments:
“There’s nothing quite like the magic of lambing, making it the ideal way to introduce children to farming and the countryside and I know lambs are a much loved sight in the Lake District heralding the start of spring.
“However, special care needs to be taken, especially at this time. It doesn’t matter how well behaved your dog is, or how many times they have been along the same route, they can still act unpredictably and this can have serious consequences for farmers and their flocks. Please, keep your dogs under tight control and preferably on a lead when they are in the vicinity of sheep.”
Most of the fells and Commons in the Lake District are Open Access Land and visitors using their open access rights must keep dogs on a short lead of no more than two metres between 1 March and 31 July each year and at all times near livestock.
The National Park Authority is also highlighting the dangers of walking near herds of cows, as there have been reports nationally of people being injured by cows over the past 12 months.
Andrea Meanwell continues: “Most people are naturally wary of bulls, but fewer realise that cows, particularly those protecting newly-born calves, can also be dangerous.
“We’d just ask people to use common sense and if there is an alternative route that doesn’t include passing through a fields of cows and calves then please take it, during this time.
“If, for any reason you are chased by a cow then the recommendation is that you drop the lead and let you dog outrun the cow.
“Thankfully these incidents are few and far between, but I feel it’s necessary to ensure that people know the risks.”
“The Countryside Code provides hints and tips for visitors and also provides updated advice to landowners and farmers to ensure that all livestock gets the best chance possible.”
The Countryside Code gives a list of hints and tips for keeping safe in the great outdoors.
And there’s more information about visiting the Lake District kindly this spring.
Our photo shows a ewe and her new lambs, heralding the start of lambing season in the Lake District