DOG owners in the district are being urged to keep their pets under control when near farm animals.

The plea has been issued by NFU Mutual as it revealed a 67 per cent surge in insurance claims, over two years, related to livestock worrying.

New figures also show that between January and April last year, when pregnant ewes and new-born lambs were grazing, the cost of claims more than doubled.

The average cost of a claim was nearly £1,300.

Tim Price, for NFU Mutual, said: "Attacks by dogs are one of livestock farmers' worst nightmares.

"In addition to the suffering to the animals, attacks can have a severe financial impact.

"Insurance can cover the cost of replacing stock killed and the treatment of injured animals, but there is a knock-on effect on farm profits when pregnant sheep chased by dogs lose lambs.

"We understand the heartbreak and huge financial loss that dog attacks cause."

Dog owners are advised to ensure their animal is on a lead when they're walking in rural areas where livestock is kept, and report any sightings of dogs loose in the countryside to local farmers or the police.