As Easter approaches and the school holidays begin, I’m sure many of you will be looking forward to the opportunity to get out and about in the great Welsh countryside. There are multiple health and wellbeing benefits of getting out into our beautiful countryside with millions of people taking the opportunity to visit the great outdoors on a regular basis.

As well as the advantages to people’s health, it is also a chance for the general public to learn more about where their food comes from and to appreciate the iconic landscapes, maintained and enhanced by Welsh farmers.

Farmers are welcoming of people to the countryside and enjoy talking to members of the public who are interested in food production and land management. All we ask is that everyone be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside. Please leave gates and property as you find them and do not block gateways or driveways when parking as this can impact on those caring for animals and working in the countryside. It is also important to follow local signs and keep to marked paths.

Spring is also a time where we see young lambs appearing in the fields and we would remind dog owners to act responsibly and keep their animals under control around sheep and other livestock.

Dogs worrying or attacking sheep and lambs is a distressing issue and while we encourage people to enjoy the countryside, we would also ask that you think about the animals living in the fields. Dogs should be kept on a short lead and under control around livestock. Let your dog off the lead if you feel threatened by livestock or horses. Do not risk getting hurt protecting your dog; releasing your dog will make it easier for you both to reach safety. Dog attacks on sheep and other livestock are a very serious matter and we continue to see instances where animals are badly hurt or, sadly, killed. We appreciate the majority of dog owners do the right thing and keep their pets under control, but there’s a small minority who don’t, and this can be extremely distressing for the animals, as well as the farmers who care deeply for the health and wellbeing of their livestock.

I’d also remind you to protect the environment whilst out and about. Take your litter home, do not light fires and only have BBQs where signs say you can, bag and bin any dog waste and care for the nature, do not cause any damage or disturbance.

We want people to enjoy the countryside, but we want it to be enjoyed responsibly. For more information on the Countryside Code visit the NFU Cymru website.