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Farmer Ben Corrie urges dog walkers to keep pets on leads after attack on sheep flock

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

A farmer is urging dog walkers to keep their pets on leads in the countryside, following attacks on his flock of sheep.

Ben Corrie, 29, who rears the animals at Frogholt Farm, in Frogholt just outside of Newington, found the shocking sight last week. He said: "I had a call from a person who had seen a sheep in a wooded area. She said it may be alive or dead, so I went to have a look and I found her. There was quite a lot of wool all over the place."

The pregnant ewe was found with bites and was treated by a vet. She is on the road to recovery, but it is expected that she will lose her lamb as a result. It comes after other sheep were targeted in November.

The sheep attack at Frogholt Farm. Credit: Ben Corrie (7111120)
The sheep attack at Frogholt Farm. Credit: Ben Corrie (7111120)

He said: "I think it's a lot of naivity. We've put so many signs up.

"A friend of mine had three sheep killed last month. It seems to be happening a lot at the moment."

The first generation farmer added that the onus falls on pet owners: "It seems they just think their dogs are better behaved than they actually are.

"It's a dog's natural instinct to chase a prey animal but people that have them as pets, it seems, don't realise that. I know a lot of dogs are just there for the chase, but it's whether or not it turns into an attack.

"It's down to the owners to control their animals."

The sheep attack at Frogholt Farm. Credit: Ben Corrie (7111124)
The sheep attack at Frogholt Farm. Credit: Ben Corrie (7111124)

His farm, which stretches over 750 acres, is home to 700 Romney ewes, the majority of which are pregnant. Some ewes are also having twins and triplets and they will be lambing in April.

The farmer is now waiting to find out if any more of his flock will miscarry their lambs as a result of the sheep worrying.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the incident on farmland in Etchinghill on Thursday was reported to them, and added that matters have been resolved civilly after officers from the Rural Liaison Team spoke to both the farmer and the dog owner.

PC Dan Perry from the Rural Liaison Team added: "The dog owner has agreed to pay the vet’s bill and compensation for the loss of the unborn lamb.

"It was agreed by all parties that this was an appropriate resolution to the incident."

He said the attack highlighted the need to keep dogs under control around livestock, especially at this time of year, when many ewes were in lamb.

He said: "Owners need to remember that it is a criminal offence to allow a dog to worry livestock.

"Dogs should be kept under control all times, because even the friendliest dog can attack livestock when their instinct kicks in.

"The owner in question was very upset by what happened as she hadn’t thought for a minute that her dog would attack sheep."

The sheep attack at Frogholt Farm. Credit: Ben Corrie (7111122)
The sheep attack at Frogholt Farm. Credit: Ben Corrie (7111122)

Dogs don’t have to physically attack sheep to cause devastating side effects as pregnant ewes often miscarry their lambs if they have been chased. He added: "Farmers are within their rights to shoot dogs if they believe it is the only reasonable way of stopping them worrying their sheep."

Mr Corrie, who has signage reminding dog walkers to use leads, said it was the third incident of sheep worrying in four months. He said: "The owner was genuinely remorseful and offered to pay compensation. She has learned from her mistake and is paying for it – literally.

"A witness saw the whole flock running so although only one ewe was physically attacked there is a chance more will miscarry.

"No farmer wants to shoot a dog. We care about animals – if we didn’t we wouldn’t be doing what we do. But we urge owners to take responsibility for their pets to keep our sheep safe."

Mr Corrie, who attended Hadlow College, said a career in farming has always been an ambition of his: "Me and my wife took on the land in October.

"It has always been a dream of mine to have my own farm. I just love the outdoor life."

Mr Corrie met his future wife Louise, now 32, at Ashford Young Farmers club.

He added: "Please respect the countryside. Farmers have to get their livelihood off the land."

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