A LIVESTOCK Worrying consultation was held in Ayr to discuss a future law on the issue.

Emma Harper MSP held the meeting in Ayr after the announcement that she will be bringing forward a Members’ Bill in the Scottish Parliament to improve the legislation of livestock worrying in the area.

It was highlighted that off-lead dogs attacking and maiming, most commonly sheep, was a ‘growing problem’.

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Last October, a retired farmer was left distraught after his sheep were attacked by a large animal, thought to be a dog, in a field in Hollybush – he found a number of his sheep with deep marks up their back with “chunks” taken out of their necks.

Four farms were represented at the Ayr meeting, along with representatives from NFU Scotland, Christine Cuthbertson, and SRUC, Davy McCracken.

Emma Harper MSP said: “Dogs attacking livestock can have massive financial consequences for the farmer - it is reported to cost the rural economy in Scotland around £1.3m a year - and is a serious animal welfare issue.

“The meeting in Ayr allowed me to hear from local farmers who obviously feel very strongly about livestock worrying and want new legislation to protect them and their beasts from irresponsible dog owners.

“Farmers asked that new legislation is kept simple so there is no ambiguity, and everyone understands what you are and aren’t allowed to do during or after a livestock worrying incident.”

“There were also calls for more to be done to make livestock worrying preventable in the first place - through educating dog owners that any breed of dog is capable of livestock worrying and that they should be kept on a lead when walking in the countryside near farm animals.

“A farmer’s field is his or her place of work, and that principle must be respected when people and their dogs are walking through our beautiful countryside.”