The IFA has reiterated its position that dog owners are banned from walking their pets on farmland as the busiest month of lambing begins.
After a series of dog attacks, the IFA announced that dog walkers would no longer have access to farmland with farmers fixing “No Dogs Allowed” posters to gates.
IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said that Ireland’s 2.5m ewes were at their most vulnerable before lambing and the only way to protect them was to stop the threat at source.
“Between now and Easter in mid-April is the peak time on farms. An attack on a flock is an attack on a farmer’s livelihood,” he said.
Dennehy said failure by the relevant authorities to put appropriate sanctions in place to deal with the irresponsible behaviour of some dog owners had brought about the ban.
“All dogs are legally required to be micro chipped and have a licence. This requirement is not enforced, but as farmers we must register and record every animal on our farms on a national data base,” he said.
The latest figures show only 217,261 dogs are licensed out of an estimated 800,000 dogs in the country.
Dennehy said there needed to be an ownership database for all dogs that allowed those owners responsible for attacks to be identified. There also needed to be appropriate sanctions for those owners with resources in place to enforce them.
"There has been a significant increase in attacks in recent months. The message simply isn't getting through,” the IFA sheep chair said.
“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.”