A Co. Kilkenny farmer said that he could not believe it when he discovered that two dogs had attacked and killed four of his dairy heifer calves.

After they had finished milking on Monday (June 27) afternoon, Patrick Prendergast and his son Phillip, who farm at Tullamaine, Callan, went to move their 22 calves to fresh grass.

“On the way down I said to Phillip, ‘Look at that calf, why is she standing in the middle of the field with her head down? There’s something wrong with her’.

“The crater had no nose left on her; she had no face, it was all ate off her. She was just standing there, she was still alive,” the farmer told Agriland.

Patrick then found another three heifers who were already dead as a result of being mauled by the dogs.

A vet was called to put the severly injured calf to sleep.

Image: Patrick Prendergast

The remaining 18 calves, who survived the dog attack, all needed veterinary treatment.

Patrick said that some of the animals had puncture marks on them and their eyes had been damaged by briars while they had attempted to escape the dogs by running through a ditch.

He said that the vet is concerned that one calf may lose an eye as a result.

One of the dogs, understood to be a Rottweiler, was shot on the farm that evening.

The second, a German Shepherd, which returned to the farm the following evening but ran off, was later put down.

“It’s not the dogs’ fault. They weren’t minded and they weren’t looked after,” Patrick said.

“We just want to highlight that people who own dogs need to look after them, especially those types of dogs. But any dog can turn if they get into the wrong company,” he added.


The Prendergast family are new entrants to dairy this year, having previously been involved in contract heifer rearing and beef production.

Patrick explained that they are currently milking 48 cows, which they hope to grow to 90 in 2023 and around 140 the following year.

As part of their expansion plan, Patrick had purchased six “top-class” economic breeding index (EBI) heifer calves this year from a farm in Co. Wexford. Four of those six animals are now dead.

Gardaí confirmed to Agriland that they are investigating a dog offence incident which occurred at an agricultural property outside Callan, Co. Kilkenny at approximately 4:30p.m on Monday, June 27, 2022.

“It was reported that four livestock were killed in the incident. Enquiries are ongoing,” a garda spokesperson added.

Patrick said that the owner of the dogs has since apologised to him and offered to cover the financial cost of the incident.