OUT of control dogs have mauled new lambs to death and chased cattle through barbed wire fencing.

Farmers have raised the alarm following a sharp rise in attacks as dog walkers fail to keep their dogs on a lead in the countryside near Brighton.

Several cows were left so terrified by a pack of dogs that they broke through a fence and were seen wandering around the campus at the University of Sussex.

Tim Carnaghan, from Standean Farm near Brighton, said eight of his lambs have been mauled to death in the past few weeks.

He said: “Since the lockdown rules were relaxed, we have seen a phenomenal number of dog walkers out and about and, while we appreciate the benefits that a walk on the Downs can bring, it’s essential that dogs are kept on leads and under proper control.

“On an average year we may lose one, possibly two, of our lambs following dog attacks, so to lose eight in just a few weeks is devastating.

“A single dog will attack one lamb but when you get more than one, they hunt together and will keep on killing. It’s vital that walkers stick to the footpaths, close any gates and keep their dogs under control.”

David Robinson, from Northease Farm in Rodmell, said his herd was traumatised by a pack of dogs chasing them.

He was horrified to discover his cows wandering between the campus buildings at the University of Sussex, after they fled through barbed wire fencing.

Many of the young cows suffered cuts from the barbed wire, including one which suffered a serious eye injury.

David and his team spent several hours rounding up the distressed cows.

David, who sees hundreds of dog walkers pass though his land every day, said: “The cows could easily have run on to the A27, which would have been devastating.

“I’ve seen gates deliberately propped open and have found a cow choking after eating a dog waste bag left hanging on a bush.

“Some dog owners don’t bother to clean up after their pets at all, which is not only unpleasant for farmers like myself and my dogs.”

After the lockdown there have been more visitors to the countryside, putting pressure on grazing land.

Brighton and Hove City Council and the South Downs National Park Authority have reminded dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead.

Andrew Lee, Director of Countryside Policy and Management at the South Downs National Park Authority, added: “Responsible dog walking is a great way for people to get out, get fit and experience the National Park.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to understand and enjoy the South Downs and we know people love this wonderful place.

“We need people to please remember that dogs needs to be on a lead or under very close control at all times to not only protect lambs and other livestock but also to protect our wildlife, which can easily be disturbed.

“Our farmers have been doing an amazing job during the lockdown at keeping food supplies going and in supporting our wildlife, and they need our support now more than ever.

“We welcome responsible dog owners and would urge anybody walking their dogs in the National Park to make themselves familiar with our Take The Lead campaign.

“Two of the key aspects of this initiative are to keep dogs on a lead near livestock and to bag and bin dog poo.”