Keep your dogs on leads this lambing season


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Plus more rural news from across Sussex

It’s lambing time – keep dogs on leads

Vets and farmers are asking dog owners to keep their dogs on leads when walking near sheep as the annual lambing season gets underway. Ewes are particularly vulnerable at this time of year as they prepare to give birth, and sheep worrying can have tragic consequences.

It is good practice for owners to keep dogs on leads at all times when walking near livestock, but it is particularly important during the spring. Vets have seen a rise in the numbers of attacks, the results of which may often lead to lambs being lost and sheep being killed and injured.

British Veterinary Association (BVA) President and vet Robin Hargreaves says: “Even dogs who are usually calm and good-natured can become very difficult to control when faced with livestock. Tragically this can lead to chasing, attacks and fatalities for sheep and other animals.”

Over the coming months ewes in the field are likely to be heavily pregnant or to have recently given birth. Chasing and worrying can have severe consequences at this time, leading to serious injuries, early labour and fatalities.

But Robin warns that the vigilance should not stop there: “Later in the season the arrival of lambs brings fresh temptation as their energy and activity can be irresistible to dogs. We ask that owners in rural areas keep their dogs on leads when walking near livestock. They should also consider taking alternative routes during the lambing season.”

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Fiona Lovatt, President of the Sheep Veterinary Society says: “The results of these attacks are very distressing for the sheep, the farmer and the vet. I’ve treated sheep which have been practically shredded by dogs and you often have no choice but to put them down.”

Most dog owners are well meaning, but if your dog is off the lead you may not even be aware of the chasing or attack. It’s important to know where your dog is at all times as they can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

For more information and advice from vets on animal welfare issues visit the BVA website at of London backs British farming

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and his food advisor Rosie Boycott are the latest people to pledge support for British farming by signing the National Farmers Union’s (NFU’s) Back British Farming Charter.

Mr Johnson said: “With London’s population set to boom by one million over the next decade it is crucial that our growing capital city can be sustained with great British produce provided by the nation’s farmers. This is not only economically sensible in terms of creating jobs and sustaining this vital industry, but also for a myriad of health and environmental reasons. I am pleased to back the NFU’s charter as part of my ongoing commitment, alongside the excellent work of Rosie Boycott and the London Food Board, to promote and celebrate British food now and in the future.”

In a year when British farming has received phenomenal backing from consumers, the NFU is urging the public to help turn around a decline in self-sufficiency that means the UK produces just 62 per cent of its own food. To put this in context, British food supplies would run out on 14 August if all the food produced in Britain in a year was stored and eaten from 1 January. The Back British Farming campaign is calling for the public, politicians and food industry to sign the charter and show their support.

If we all work together we can make sure our farmers can feed our nation for generations to come.

To show your support and sign the charter, Click hereIt’s show time!

On 24 May, Little Tottingworth Farm will be alive with animals and agriculture for the Heathfield Show. Organised by the Heathfield and District Agricultural Show Society, cattle, horses, pigs and sheep will compete for the coveted class titles, while the flower show and country ways tent are sure to keep everyone entertained – and that’s not to mention the huge selection of trade stands, often offering special show discounts on everything from furniture to farm machinery.

For more information and tickets call 01435 864587 or go to

Farm shop of the month - Bluebell Farm Shop, Arlington

Tucked away at Bates Green Farm, home of the famous Arlington Bluebell Walk near Hailsham, Bluebell Farm Shop is a foodies’ paradise. Farmer’s wife Philippa Vine is a professional cook and food writer and has a passion for locally-sourced quality ingredients. Bluebell Farm Shop is open every day from 11am and is the main outlet for locally produced beef, lamb, chicken and turkey reared by Michael Vine, formerly at Ersham Farm in Hailsham. On Fridays and Saturdays while the bluebells are in bloom the shop is open from 9.30am to 5pm, and the Bluebell Wood is open to the public from 17 April to 18 May.

For those wanting the ultimate takeaway after their walk, Philippa offers a pre-order service, where countryside lovers can pick up tarts, cakes, casseroles, speciality breads and pies after their visit. Philippa also offers cookery tuition in her farmhouse kitchen on a one-to-one basis, or with a friend.

Contact Philippa at or telephone 07896 742454. my walk - Wheatears

Often the first migrants to return from their wintering grounds in Africa, these diminutive little birds are mainly ground-dwelling – they hop or run on the ground.

They are blue-grey in colour with black wings and white below, with an orange flush to the breast and a black cheek. In flight they show their white rumps and a black ‘T’ shape on their tails. They are summer visitors to our shores and breed mainly in western and northern Britain and western Ireland, although smaller numbers do breed in southern and eastern England.

Game for anything - Life on a busy Sussex estate

Words by Robert Windle, Resident Agent at Cowdray Park

April at Cowdray Park marks the beginning of the polo season, when the ponies are brought back into the stables after winter grazing to be prepared for the first tournaments this month.

We also start our exterior painting programme with the famous Cowdray Yellow paint on the cottages. There are several theories about the origins of the colour, however the most accurate one is that it was a political statement, as the 1st and 2nd Viscount Cowdrays were Liberal MPs.

There are plenty of events coming up at Cowdray Hall, starting with the Country Brocante on 5 April, and the farm shop and café will be open for the whole of the Easter weekend.

Our popular guided twilight wildlife outings also begin again now, and we look forward to the first swallows arriving back, together with other migratory birds such as cuckoos, which are seldom seen but are charmingly unmistakable when they start calling.