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On the 13th of January a dog attacked and killed a sheep on Wittenham Clumps. Over the past few weeks, there have been several incidents where sheep have been seriously injured after being mauled by dogs.

“When a sheep dies it is always very upsetting," said sheep farmer Dan Marriott. "However, when that death could have been avoided and is so brutal, it is all the more distressing. We urge dog walkers to be responsible and keep their pets on a lead when walking in fields where the sheep are grazing, and encourage others to do the same”

Trading under the name of Little Wittenham Lamb, Dan & Lauren Marriott rear sheep for sale at local farmers markets. They are an important part of the Earth Trust’s Food and Farming programme, which encourages the production and eating of good, local, healthy food. As a small business, they are hit hard by losses caused by dogs attacking their sheep.

Sheep disturbed by dogs often die from injuries. At this time of the year many sheep are carrying lambs, or have lambs at foot. Any stress caused by dogs usually results in a painful death of both sheep.

The Earth Trust Farm, which includes Wittenham Clumps, attracts 150,000 people a year, 84% of these travelling from local communities, particularly Wallingford, Didcot and Abingdon.

The grasslands on the farm (including on the Wittenham Clumps themselves) are wildflower meadows that are managed traditionally by hay cutting and grazing with sheep and cattle. This grazing creates the right conditions for the wildflowers to thrive and so is essential to managing and maintaining these meadows and encouraging biodiversity.

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