Police are hunting a sadistic animal killer thought to have brutally sliced the ears off a number of lambs.
One lamb died of a heart attack following the mutilation at a farm in Co Armagh over the weekend, with a second dying the previous week in similar circumstances.
Farmer Roberta McMullan said that while the first death at her Battleford Road farm had puzzled her, she realised after the second attack on Friday that it had been a sinister and deliberate act.
"They are sick," she said.
"It's unbelievable. Who would want to do something like this?
"I discovered it first thing on Saturday. The lamb was lying in a field beside the house. Its right ear had been cut off and I searched the fields for anywhere it could be, but couldn't find it.
"I have no idea who would have done this, that is the big problem. I do not want to believe someone has done this - it's just so sick."
Ms McMullan said she hoped the lamb died a quick death. Having taken it to the vet for a post-mortem, she said it died from a heart attack following the assault. The Pedigree Suffolk lamb had been at the farm for four months and was a twin of the lamb which died after having its ear cut off last week. The loss of the lambs and vet bills means she is almost £1,000 out of pocket.
Ms McMullan, who lives with her elderly parents at their family home several miles outside Armagh, has been farming for nearly 50 years.
She said she could not understand why her farm in this quiet rural area was targeted.
"There is no bad feeling among the farming community," she said.
"You would have to get the lamb in the field and stop it running away. It would come if you had meal in your hand. They know me, but not strangers."
Another farmer nearby said there had been some animal thefts in recent years, but nothing so sinister.
"It is disgraceful what has happened. It would take quite a lot of effort to cut off a lamb's ear. If you go into the field they will scatter."
USPCA spokesman David Wilson condemned the attacks as "terrible".
"In our experience the farming community is a tight-knit community and will help each other," he said.
"We hope that someone in the farming community or rural area will hear something and report it to police. The sooner they are caught and convicted and sentenced the better.
"We have seen incidents like this before, thankfully rarely, but it is very difficult to understand the mindset of anyone who would deliberately harm an animal."
Police said: "We are presently investigating reports where a number of lambs have been attacked and have had their right ears cut off. Someone out there knows who is behind this act of animal cruelty."