Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 16 February 2019

'Many farmers aren't bothered reporting sheep kills anymore'

Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell

Louise Walsh

A North Louth farmer who lost eight pregnant ewes carrying up to 17 lambs in a savage attack by marauding dogs claims many sheep owners aren’t bothering to report kills any more.

Padraig Rice who is about to lose another ewe from the attack is also calling on more stringent laws to make dog owners more culpable for sheep kills

The part-time farmer was on his way to feed his flock at land near Ballymascanlon when he was met with the siight of torn and bloodied sheep.

The stomach-churning slaughter was discovered at 10am on Thursday, January 24 when Padraig  and a friend Gerry Carroll went to check on his heavily-pregnant flock.

“I am a carpenter by trade and was running late for work that morning so went to check on the sheep during my break,” he said.

“I was reared on a farm and during the recession went back to part-time sheep farming .  I had about 70 ewes in total.

“When we reached the fields, I saw straight away the injured sheep and noticed about ten were missing. 

“We searched for about three hours and had to drag the dead sheep out of old drains.  We nearly got stuck in there ourselves.

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“Many of the dead ewes had obviously fled from the dogs and drowned.  Others died from pneumonia and yet more from stress in the onslaught.

“I lost eight ewes.  One was pregnant with three lambs, four were due twins and two had singlets.  Another ewe who survived aborted her twins in fear.

“I’m about to lose another ewe who didn’t recover from the attack.”

Padraig has been too upset to count the monetary loss for the nine ewes and 17 sheep but claims a pregnant ewe with twins could be worth up to €200 alone while the lambs, if born and reared until June could have earned him upwards of €100

He is also forking out for veterinary fees on the sheep that need antibiotics and treatment after being bitten.

“About 14 more sheep had their throats cut or ears torn so we have to give them antibiotics and hope they make a full recovery.

“They are scared stiff though.  If I bring my sheepdog into the field, they run a mile.”

Shockingly, it’s the second time Padraig has lost sheep to savage dogs and is now calling on more action to be taken.

“I lost about three sheep when I started out farming about 20 odd years ago.  People think farmers  hate dogs but that’s not true.  I have three dogs and love them

“It’s in every dog’s nature to kill. I don’t blame the dogs, I blame the owners.

“There was more than one dog in this attack.  There had to be because my sheep were over 50 acres in three different fields.

“Many farmers I know have given up reporting attacks because nothing happens.  How do you prove it?  Even if a dog is picked up, the owners will just go and get it and it often will kill again.”

Padraig has paid over €1,000 in meshing now for the gates in the hope it will keep his sheep safe but he knows it is no guarantee.

“Loose dogs have to be picked up regardless of what they are at.  Laws have to be changed and owners have to be more responsible.

“The dogs that did this had to have gone back to their homes covered in muck and blood.  The owners have to have noticed!”

Online Editors