Sheep Shibboleth

As we near the end of another seasons lambing we take a look at the different cliches found in every lambing shed around the world. Chances are if you’ve spent any amount of time working with our ovine friends, you … Continue reading

The biggest Agventure yet

Six months spent hopping from farm to farm in New Zealand and Australia Continue reading

Pet owners- control your pooch!

Could unsuitable dog breeds be to blame for a rise in sheep worrying?

dead sheep

This month we saw the story of a lamb being chased off a cliff by an out of control dog spread across the headlines.

Sheep worrying has become an increasing problem and the rise in population and Britain’s obsession with pets isn’t helping.

Not so many years ago people would have a dog for a specific purpose, be it protecting livestock, to catch their supper, or simply to keep their lap warm. Each of these dog were selected for the characteristics typical to their breeding such as stamina, speed or size.

But now with nearly half of UK families having a pet dog, we are seeing dogs that are highly unsuitable for their owners.

You only have to visit a dog rescue centre to notice the trend in unwanted dog breeds. Long gone are the greyhound filled kennels which have been replaced with Staffies, Huskies and Rottweilers who were bought by their owners to add to that tough guy bravado. However, for whatever reason, failure to train, care for, neuter these animals, the result is 1 in 20 of the 9 million dogs in the UK, being homeless.

I remember reading the backlash of Daily Mail journalist who wrote about how dreadful other peoples dogs can make an innocent trip to the park. but she was right. Every day i see dogs doing as they please while their owner looks on in embarrassment unable to control the situation. Only this morning I watched two dogs owners and their pets allow their dogs to run wild across the lettuce crop growing on the farm where I live. When I caught one out she feebley called Rocky, who continued to ignore her and then empty his bowels on an iceberg lettuce. She didn’t pick it up.

And these irresponsible dogs owners are everywhere. they walk among us, to the neighbour whose dog frequently soils your front lawn, to the labradoodle that pounces on your toddler in the park.

I know someone who wanted a collie after watching an episode of Countryfile, despite working full time, living in a town and never owning a sheep in their life. Subsequently it is now having weekly appointments with a dog phycologist after developing a mental disorder through lack of stimulation.

I understand that aesthetics can be extremely persuasive. Believe me, I’m a girly girl, pretty much everything I buy is based on appearance, but dogs should be selected for their suitability to the owner. Will it live inside or out, does it require a high level of mental stimulation, how big is your home etc.

I’m not saying that these highly energised dog breeds are the only ones to blame. It all comes down to the owner and their level or training and common sense. I’ve known German Shepherds to share a bed with sock lambs and I’ve known pugs to take on badgers, but statistics show that certain dogs are more likely to attack.


There is certainly a trend when I speak to farmers that have fallen victim to an attack. All animals pumped full of energy for the tasks they were originally supposed to carry out.

Animal charities and breeders also have a huge part to play in this when matching a dog with a potential owner. Some breeders will always vet their puppies’ new homes, but others will only see dollar signs and off goes that Irish Wolfhound to live in the one bed flat in Brixton.

So, potential dog owners, if I could ask one thing. Select your breed carefully, speak to a specialist and consider breeds you never even knew existed. If you have the time and space for a Belgian Shepherd then get one. If you see yourself as future flyball champion on the world then get a Collie, but don’t go buying that French Mastiff to make your neighbours Doberman look runt-like.

vicious dog

This article was published by South East Farmer and can be read online:

Wellies swapped for high heels

I can’t believe that we’re in May already, which means next month I will have been working at South East Farmer for a year – and what a year it has been.

I have been meeting so many of our dedicated readers, learning so much more about the industry, and further developing my passion for educating the public about the importance of where our food comes from.

I’ve been to protests, test driven combines, attended shows of all shapes and sizes, and sometimes I even got to swap my wellies for high heels and don a cocktail dress. Agriculture really is such a diverse and exciting industry and one that I am so proud to be a part of.


May also marks the month we’ve all been waiting for – or dreading in Dave’s case – with the general election. I have been really disheartened by the number of young people who have not registered to vote and young people I know who seem to have no interest in the future of our country. As my brother described it: “It’s like being made to choose a meal which you know will kill you, but you have to eat!”

Lambing my own flock of sheep for the first time has been stressful to say the least. Perhaps I should have considered that working full time and expecting sheep to do as I ask was a bit optimistic. We’ll just call all those sleepless nights character building. However, I’m feeling quite accomplished after a very successful lambing with no problems. Despite having countless lambing jobs in the past, it has been a massive learning curve and I found that seeing the ewes through from tupping to post lambing was an invaluable experience.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.11.30

Farming without much land is challenging but after much perseverance I have acquired 40 acres more grazing on a site of special scientific interest on the North Downs, just ten minutes from home. Locals have already exclaimed their delight at seeing sheep up there again for the first time in years and a local farm shop has jumped at the chance to stock my lamb.

It’s amazing how a few extra hours of sunlight can make such a difference. I have even found the time to restock the greenhouse in the hope I will actually remember to water my plants this year. At least livestock shout when they’re hungry.


This article was published by South East Farmer and can be read online: