Livestock Worrying

Livestock Worrying

The National Farmers Union (NFU), describe livestock worrying as a major concern to rural communities.

It is not a civil (private prosecution) matter when livestock is attacked or worried, it is a matter for the police to investigate.

Livestock attacks are not criminal damage as animals alone cannot commit a criminal offence. It is the owner/person in charge of the dog that is liable. There are several criminal offences in relation to this issue.


Recent findings nationally indicate that dogs responsible for attacks on livestock, in particular sheep, occur mainly when they have escaped from a home or garden rather than not being kept under control or on a lead when near livestock.

Be aware that legislation allows farmers to shoot dogs worrying livestock on agricultural land.

Instances of dogs worrying horses is also on the increase while horses are grazing or out on the roads, bridleways and open spaces. There were 717 dog incidents recorded with The British Horse Society in the UK between 2022 and 2023. 11 of these were in Derbyshire

The points below set out crucial guidance for dog owners:

  • Ensure your dog cannot stray from the home
  • If someone else is in charge of your dog ensure they keep it under close control
  • When in or near fields with livestock, keep your dog on a lead and under control at all times
  • Familiarise your dog with livestock from a young age, particularly if you live near to or take your dog where there is livestock nearby
  • Always check for livestock in fields when walking your dog
  • Have a distraction for your dog in any situation such as a favourite toy or treat
  • Keep it in sight
  • Report sightings of out of control dogs to local farmers or the police

Advice to livestock owners

  • Check your gates and fencing are secure and in good repair
  • Erect hard wearing signs asking dog owners to keep pets on their leads. The Rural Crime Team can supply these.
  • During lambing season reroute footpaths temporarily if possible
  • Report any issues to the police.

Reporting Livestock Worrying

To report livestock worrying contact Derbyshire Police.
If a crime is in progress call: 999
For non-urgent reports call: 101 or click ‘Report a Rural Crime’ at the side of this page.

Skip to content