Farmers across Ireland are refusing to allow walkers with dogs on their land due to the recent rise in dog attacks on livestock.

As part of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) nationwide campaign, farmers will be putting up posters ‘No Dogs Allowed’ on farm gates across the country.

IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said; “There has been a significant increase in attacks in recent months.

"The message simply isn’t getting through.

"We also have reports of farmers encountering verbal abuse and intimidation when they remind dog owners of their responsibilities and the dangers of letting their pets off the leash."

Sean said the authorities’ failure to put appropriate sanctions in place to punish the irresponsible and reckless behaviour of some dog owners means the only way to protect ewes that will be lambing in the coming weeks is to stop the threat at source.

“Rather than risk the devastating consequences, farmers will refuse entry to members of the public with dogs to our lands to protect their animals and their livelihoods.

"A growing number of reckless dog owners have brought this on everybody else, and the inaction of authorities has forced farmers down this route."

Despite repeated requests, he said local authorities have failed to put appropriate measures in place, and dog owners refuse to take responsibility for their pets.

“Farmers are sick of the casual approach of some dog owners who will not accept the damage their pets can inflict on sheep.

“While we encourage flock owners to report attacks, the list of recent attacks is certainly bigger than we hear about.

"The injuries inflicted on sheep by dogs are horrific.

"Often, those not killed have to be put down due to the extent of their injuries.

"Farmers may be too upset or traumatised to report to the Gardai what has happened."

The lack of appropriate sanctions as a deterrent to this behaviour, and the difficulty in bringing those to task, is also contributing to incidents not being reported as farmers have lost confidence in the willingness of the authorities to deal with this issue

Sean reminded dog owners that sheep farmers are entitled under law to defend their livestock, and if their flock is threatened, the law does allow them to shoot the dog.

IFA has repeatedly asked the government to put serious resources into microchipping and an adequate dog warden service, but this hasn’t happened.

The association wants a national ownership database for all dogs that allows those responsible for them be identified.

In addition, the IFA wants appropriate sanctions to act as a deterrent for those who allow their animals to cause this devastation on sheep farms, with resources to enforce these sanctions.