A Co Down farmer has urged other farmers to be vigilant against the threat of dog attacks on livestock.
Ernie Patterson, who farms between Killyleagh and Killinchy, spoke out after he lost three lambs and saw others suffer severe injuries in an attack by dogs earlier this week.
Mr Patterson said the attack had happened late on Monday night and came to light on Tuesday morning when he went to check his sheep.
“It was a scene of pandemonium,” said Mr Patterson. “The lambs bore the brunt of the attack and were scattered around three different fields. They had been forced through fences, into lint holes and there was blood dripping everywhere.”
Mr Patterson said he had been dosing the sheep the day before so was aware which sheep and lambs should have been in each of his fields.
After reporting the incident to the police and dog warden, Mr Patterson was told that there had been reports of two dogs - a black Labrador type and black and white Collie type - running loose in the area.
He continued: “I called the vet and she was really stunned by what she saw. It really was horrendous. She had to put down three and spent hours trying to stitch up the deep cuts on many others.”
Mr Patterson is aware that while the initial loss of three lambs is disappointing, he could be faced with further problems in the weeks ahead.
“To be honest, the vet wasn’t that hopeful that the lambs would survive,” he said.
“Dogs’ teeth carry a bacteria that causes infections in cuts, so even though the cuts have been cleaned up it is by no means certain they’ll all survive.
“Those lambs that suffered injuries are on antibiotics so we’ll have to see what happens.”
Talking about the types of injuries suffered by his flock, Mr Patterson said he hadn’t seen anything like it before.
“I have seen dogs nip and bite at sheep before but these injuries are much worse - it looks like they have been through a shredder!” he said.
“Some suffered injuries to both sides of their necks which would suggest the two dogs attacked the one sheep causing deep wounds, with lumps of flesh torn out. The vet suggested that rather than an attack for food, the dogs had treated it like sport.
“If dogs get a taste for this sort of thing they are only more likely to do it again. I would urge farmers to be vigilant and report any stray dogs before there are further attacks,” he added.