Livestock Worrying by Hunting Hounds

Hunting Hounds worrying livestock

Amendments needed to the “Dogs – Protection of Livestock Act 1953



Over the years, there have been many reports documented including photographic and video evidence of dogs loose on agricultural land worrying and attacking livestock. Exemptions for hunting dogs on agricultural land are biased and archaic. Amendments are needed to bring this Act  into 2021.

The “Dogs – Protection of Livestock Act 1953” is intended to protect livestock worrying by dogs on agricultural land. It states:

An Act to provide for the punishment of persons whose dogs worry livestock on agricultural land; and for purposes connected with the matter aforesaid.”


It further states:


Penalty where dog worries livestock on agricultural land.   

 (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, if a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and, if it is in the charge of a person other than its owner, that person also, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

(2) For the purposes of this Act worrying livestock means—

(a) attacking livestock, or

(b) chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce.


(c) being at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.


Exemption  :  (2A)Subsection (2)(c) of this section shall not apply in relation to —  

(a)  a dog owned by, or in the charge of, the occupier of the field or enclosure or the owner of the sheep or a person authorised by either of those persons; or

(b)  a police dog, a guide dog, trained sheep dog, a working gun dog or a pack of hounds

Dogs – Protection of Livestock Act 1953


The Act also defines ‘agricultural land” and ‘livestock’

·  “agricultural land” means land used as arable, meadow or grazing land, or for the purpose of poultry farming, pig farming, market gardens, allotments, nursery grounds or orchards; and

·  “livestock” means cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses, or poultry, and for the purposes of this definition “cattle” means bulls, cows, oxen, heifers or calves, “horses” includes asses and mules, and “poultry” means domestic fowls, turkeys, geese or ducks.”

There are further complications to this reference the ATA Act (Agricultural Tenancies) 1995. Once a protected livestock leaves agricultural land, the protection ends.

Thomson Reuters  Legal Practice  state:


Includes any creature kept for the production of food, wool, skins or fur or for the purpose of its use in the farming of land.

This is the definition in section 38(1) of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 (ATA 1995). Whether or not any particular creature is regarded as livestock will depend on the construction of the statutory definition relevant to that situation.

Livestock has a restricted meaning in an agricultural context. The definitions in the ATA 1995 and the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 frequently cause problems in relation to horses. These definitions only include horses kept for their meat, hides or for use in farming the land, such as ploughing or drawing farm vehicles. They do not include horses kept for recreational, stud or equestrian purposes.”

 REFERENCE  :   Thomsonreuters

A packs of hounds, racing through a field containing livestock, can inflict devastation injuries, shock and possible death to livestock and financial loss and emotional trauma to the keeper of the livestock. 

There could be serious consequences if livestock are spooked or pursued onto non agricultural areas or public highways.

As packs of hounds have been exempted from the Act in regard to ‘being at large’ who is held responsible for harm and damage sustained?

It would appear it may be difficult to prove intent to commit a criminal offence or maybe recklessness by the hunt as the pack could have strayed into livestock areas, so would the keeper or owner have to go through an often expensive process of seeking any compensation via a civil suit? 

Amendment needed

1.  Hunting hounds exemption should be removed.

2.  A ban on all dogs (exclusion zone) in fields that contain livestock / accomodate animals.

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In Scotland 

The UK Parliament at Westminster can pass laws on Reserved Matters in general, having a UK or international  focus.

Following Scottish Devolution, certain areas, such as agriculture, are devolved matters allowing the Scottish Parliament to make their own laws specifically for Scotland. 

The Dogs – Protection of Livestock Act 1953 was inherited by the Scottish Parliament but after Devolution, they were able to make amendments to this Act. These amendments are recorded in the current Act.

The Scottish Parliament are currently in the process of trying to reform the Act. They have also expressed the possibility of removing the exemption for packs of hounds.

Scottish Member’s Bill  …. was introduced by Emma Harper MSP (Membet in Charge) on 14 May 2020. Stage 1 Report  on the Dogs (Protection of livestock – Amendment Scotland) Bill to update law on livestock worrying (1953) Act. Further study has been carried out on the subject of  Exemptions of hounds.

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The following evidence is damning and highlights the need for the UK Government to follow the example of the Scots and remove the exemption to packs of hounds from agricultural land in England and Wales.

Examples of such attacks:

♦   The Daily Mail on 14/03/2019 reported an incident of a hound mauling a lamb. The hound was part of a hunt in Royston, Derbyshire. The pack jumped into a field of sheep chasing them. This was filmed by Nottingham Hunt Sabs who had followed mounted hunt riders through a field whereupon the sheep stampede. A lamb was singled out and mauled by a hound. Apparently, members of the hunt were present at the time but did nothing to intervene.

hounds chase lamb - triple


Article Link : Foxhounds rampage through field of sheep mauling lamb

Video Link :

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♦   Billy Briggs wrote in The Ferret 28/02/2018 that LACS secretly recorded 20 incidents of hunts in Scotland hunting in fields of sheep, dating back to 2015.

Hounds chasing sheep - triple 001


Robbie Marsland, director of The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “The League recently reviewed footage obtained over past hunting seasons for evidence of sheep worrying and was shocked and alarmed by what we saw.

“If the sight of one dog can devastate a pregnant ewe we can only stagger at the prospect of what a pack of over thirty dogs in full cry must have.”


Footage reveals a clip of Lauderdale Hunt and a pregnant ewe falling heavily as hounds run amok. Also footage from various other hunts shows flocks of sheep running away from hounds trying to leap over walls and fences.

Hunts secretly filmed by LACS included Fife Foxhounds and Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt filmed at Ettrictsbridge..


Article  :  Footage accuses hunt of worrying sheep

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♦   Joe Mellor reported in The London Economic on 06/11/2020 

That Nottingham Hunt Saboteurs  captured footage of a terrified calf “running for its life”.  

Hounds chasing calf - double 001
Hounds chasing calf - double 002

The hunt had charged through a livestock field near Broxtone, Nottinghamshire on Wednesday 04/11/2020. As the baying hounds chased the cattle, a calf became separated from its mother. The calf, in panic, jumped stone walls, designed to keep livestock in!  Animal rights activists are heard, saying in shocked tones, “oh my God – look at this calf running for its life! They are actually chasing it through a field!”.

Saboteurs reported this incident to the police and RSPCA.


Article  :  Calf being chased by hunting hounds

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♦   The BBC reported on 05/01/2021 that an alpaca breeder from Bingfield Alpacas reported hounds got on to her land near Hexham, Northumberland  on three occasions. They cornered and terrified newly weaned babies and traumatised pregnant mothers.

Hounds attacking Alpaca - Triple

Teri White described the occasion as “horrendous!  We had to sit with them until midnight to calm them down. Pregnant females could still easily abort as a result of the stress of being chased”.

Tynedale Hunt said police had investigated but no action was taken.


Article  :  Alpacas traumatised

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Although this incident was in Northern Ireland, it serves as stark reality check. Not always the farmer’s perspective is included in reports.

♦   This was reported in Belfast Telegraph  12/02/2016. On 2nd February 2016, a flock of sheep suffered multiple miscarriages and 6 lambs were stillborn after 16 hounds rampaged through their field. The farmer was forced to shoot hounds in an attempt to protect his flock. The hunt tried to retrieve the remains of the hounds to prevent microchips being scanned but the dog warden had got there beforehand. The dogs were all registered in England.

The farmer suffered much financial pressure particularly as the next generation had been wiped out.

The farmer stated “without land to hunt on – there would be no hunt”

Farmers plead with people to keep dogs on leads and out of livestock fields. The ramifications of dog attacks on livestock is clear to all and are devastating. There are many graphic accounts of dog attacks on livestock so why are shooting dogs and hounds exempted when the problem is so serious.


Article  :  Sheep lose lambs after being chased by hunting hounds

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There are a number of Acts that were written before the Hunting Act that give hunting hounds exemption in a number of situations. These Acts failed to be updated at the time of the Hunting Act. They allow hounds to run riot of roads and farm land without being prosecuted. 

Example :-


   Road Traffic Act 1988

   Protection of Livestock Act 1953

These outdated Acts need to be updated and any hunting hound exemption removed, so that livestock and road users are protected from hunting hound running riot.

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Links to other related articles


   Domestic animal attacks by hounds

   Leaked webinars video exposes hunts lies and smokescreens

   NPCC (Police) directive on hunting

   Hounds running riot on roads

DISCLAIMER : Please Note : This awareness article and sample evidence, is used as an example to show how loose, uncontrolled hunt hounds can cause chaos, injury and death chasing livestock. 

Various other legislation may also apply and we advise readers to make themselves fully aware of any other related laws.
This article is not a full comprehensive guide of the law on each topic mentioned.

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