A total of 10 ewes and lambs were killed as a result of a recent incident involving two stray dogs on a Co. Limerick sheep farm.
Noel Woulfe, who keeps 160 sheep across three fields on his farm in Ardagh, also experienced a dog attack last October in which he lost eight ewes.
The farmer was devastated to learn that his flock had again been subjected to a similar ordeal last Thursday (April 28).
“Myself and my son went to see the sheep and when we went down we noticed that they were all gone from one field.
“He said, ‘I’ll go up to see the sheep in the top field’ and then he called me and said, ‘Dad, there are two dogs here tearing the sheep’,” Woulfe told Agriland.
The farmer said that the two large-breed dogs were biting at the animals’ throats. The panic-stricken flock was driven into dykes and through gates and fencing during the attack.
Woulfe said that he contacted the person whom he believes owns the dogs who subsequently managed to catch one of them.
As a result of the dog attack, the sheep farmer lost four ewes and six lambs. He is now concerned for the welfare of the remainder of the flock.
The sheep farmer appealed to dog owners to be more responsible for their pets.
“I saw a terrier on his own a number of years ago attacking sheep. He was only a little house dog and he was able knock them. You couldn’t believe what one small dog can do. I just appeal to people to be very careful, especially where there is sheep,” he said.
Gardaí confirmed to Agriland that they are “investigating an incident that occurred in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick in which a number of sheep were attacked on April 28, 2022”.
Chair of the Limerick executive of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Sean Lavery said that the dog attack was a “brutal affair” and “traumatic” for the farmer, his family and the animals.
“It’s an awful shock when you go out in the morning and see sheep being attacked by dogs,” he said.
“Dog owners have to know where their dogs are at all times. They have to assume that it their dog is missing it could be roaming the countryside, especially in areas where there are sheep.
“A pack of dogs could be working together and chasing sheep for fun. Dogs that would go hunting and kill a sheep would actually clean themselves down before they come home. You’d never suspect what devilment they had been up to.
“So, I’d be appealing to dog owners to always know where their dog is and to make sure that they are properly restrained at night.
“Furthermore, all dogs should be microchipped so that if dogs are apprehended that they can be traced,” Lavery said.
The Limerick IFA chair called for a central dog ownership database to be established along with further funding and resources for the dog warden service.