Sheep farmer Gordon Wyeth from West Dean, near Chichester, made the horrific discovery on Tuesday afternoon.

The sheep, many of them in-lamb, died as a result of shock or by being crushed in the flock, local media have reported.

A total of 116 sheep, worth about £17,000, died. However, the expenses don’t stop there as it will cost the farmer a further £2,000 at least to dispose of the carcasses.

While there were no signs of the animals being savaged, all involved are 100% certain that their deaths were brought about by dogs.

Local police officer Tom Carter said he has never seen or heard of sheep-worrying on this scale before, describing it “a terrible sight”.

“While there are no signs of any of the animals being savaged, we are all but 100% certain that their deaths were brought about by dogs.

“This is not just about Mr Wyeth’s livelihood, but also his emotional attachment to the animals that he has raised and nurtured,” he said.

Increase in sheep attacks

As in Ireland, police in the UK are seeing a rise in reports of sheep attacks in recent years.

“We urge people to keep their dogs on a lead while they are walking in rural areas and around livestock.

“So often in these incidents, the owners are horrified by what their dogs have done, but they have to accept that even the most docile pet can quickly turn into a killer given the opportunity,” the police officer said.

James Osman, a representative from the National Farmers’ Union, also said sheep attacks were on the rise.

“This is the worst incident of its kind in living memory and, talking to colleagues around the country, the number of deaths is double what we have come across in the past,” he said.

See this week’s Irish Farmers Journal for more on recent sheep attacks reported in Ireland.

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