A CHILDREN'S competition has been launched by the National Sheep Association to help raise awareness around sheep worrying.

The competition invites kids to design a sign to help share the message of responsible dog ownership whilst enjoying the countryside. The NSA felt that many signs currently placed on farms across the UK are simply ignored and hoped by encouraging children to get involved, they might help get the message across more effectively.

The competition is open to children in three age groups; under eight, eight to 12 and 13 to 16, to design a sign suitable to be displayed on fence posts and around farmland reminding dog walkers to keep their pet on a lead when walking in areas where sheep may be present.

Sheep worrying by dogs is a serious issue for sheep farmers, often resulting in injuries and even the death of the livestock. The stress experienced by sheep following chasing or physical attacks can also have devastating consequences, with pregnant sheep at risk of miscarrying their unborn lambs. But it is not just the physical injuries to sheep that makes the issue so concerning to the sector but that farmers themselves reporting that their mental wellbeing has been compromised.

Farmers not only have to deal with the aftermath of attacks on the livestock but then are faced with worry in anticipation of future attacks.

NSA communications officer Katie James commented: “For many years, NSA, as well as many other farming bodies have highlighted the seriousness of this issue and has taken actions such as supplying free farm signs to sheep farmers to try and alert dog walkers of the risk posed to sheep and other livestock from their pet if allowed to run off lead. Unfortunately, NSA is aware that too often these signs are ignored.

“But it is hard to ignore a plea from a child,” she continued. “We therefore hope our new competition could create a resource that catches the public’s eye and shows 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 for children to use for their design, either through drawing and colouring by hand or by using their IT design skills.

The template can be downloaded from the NSA website and once completed can be emailed to enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk or posted to National Sheep Association - The Sheep Centre, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 6PH.

Designs simply drawn on A4 paper will also be accepted. Entries close on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

The winning designer will receive some Halloween goodies and will have their sign made into a downloadable resource that sheep farmers can use to help deter sheep worrying incidents on their farms.