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Flock of sheep savaged as farmer urges vigilance

Thursday, 16th January, 2014 3:38pm

Flock of sheep savaged as farmer urges vigilance

Although this sheep lambed successfully on Monday vets still cannot be sure she will survive her injuries. Photo: Adrian Donohoe.

Paul Neilan

Another dog attack on sheep in the county has seen a flock traumatised by savage injury and some having to be put down.
The disturbing overnight incident occurred on the farm of Kieran Cooney (right) in Ballyjamesduff and was discovered on Tuesday morning of last week when he went to check on the 40-odd sheep he had housed for lambing.
“I got up like any morning to check on the stock,” says Kieran.
“An Alsatian and two pups had the flock still cornered when I got there. There was a few lying flat, savaged, still breathing, there was a lot with facial damage, blood and wool all around.
“It’s never happened to me before. I wasn’t prepared for the shock of the carnage of the scene. I mean, I nearly had names on them, so I wasn’t the best for it. It knocked me, alright.
“When I got there and the dogs saw me they came up to me tails wagging, they were well-mannered and I got them into a shed and I called the guards.
“You can’t blame the dogs, they think they are playing with the sheep, grabbing them by the neck, ears... but there’s a lot of facial damage.”
Kieran, who believes that the dogs got in through the sheep-feeder, called a vet who attended to the 42 sheep in total.
Sixteen sustained injury, some serious, while two had to be put down, but the long-lasting effect of the attack is that the flock will be traumatised, most likely unable to properly lamb and too shocked to properly feed.
“They’re in shock, on top of the lambing, I need to get a kilo fed to them and some might have dead lambs in them, so it’s an ongoing process, some might be gangrenous. Other farmers who have had this happen to them say that their flock never recovered.
“I could have a vet in every day for a while now, the risk is that with dead lambs in the ewes that they will poison them through the bloodstream.
“The flock is ruined, it’s a matter of what I can salvage,” says Kieran, who refuses to give up and will start again from near scratch on the farm where he bred generations of sheep over the last 12 years.
The shock of seeing the flock attacked is accompanied by the financial loss, estimated in the thousands, but Kieran is urging farmers to be vigilant and hopes that others will benefit by highlighting the most recent of a spate of attacks.
“Be very vigilant,” he stresses. “Both farmers and dog-owners, That’s my livelihood and I will lose a lot of it. The neighbouring farmers have been great, calling in support and I’d like to thank them. I’ll have to take it on the chin and start again.”
The latest attack follows incidents in Mountnugent and outside Cavan Town and local vets are urging owners to be extra-vigilant on not letting their dogs run loose.