The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has said it wants the government to broaden its definition of livestock worrying to include incursions on farms by animal rights activists, which in recent years have become more common on poultry and pig units.
The call from the trade body comes as tougher powers to tackle livestock worrying have taken a significant step forward with the announcement of government backing for new legislation. However, this legislation defines livestock worrying as when dogs chase, attack, or cause distress to animals on farm.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill – a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by Dr Thérèse Coffey MP – the police will be given greater powers to respond to livestock worrying incidents more effectively – making it easier for them to collect evidence and, in the most serious cases, seize and detain dogs to reduce the risk of further attacks.
AIMS said the issue of livestock worrying had progressed significantly since the original 1953 act. “We would like to see the definition of ‘worrying’ be extended to all farmed livestock and to not just include the actions by dogs but also worrying by humans.”
Spokesman Tont Goodger said: “Having spoken with many AIMS members, they believe that incursion onto farms and specifically into sheds where livestock, mainly pigs and poultry, are housed must now be included in the definition of livestock worrying and furthermore that must not be restricted just to farmed land but also other places where livestock are gathered such as at livestock markets and in the lairage at abattoirs.
“We would urge all in livestock farming to write to their MPs and ask that they ensure the new proposals are as robust as possible.”