Sixteen ewe lambs were killed and several more badly injured in a dog attack in Co Limerick on Christmas Day.

The attack took place in Galbally, in the lowlands of the Galtee Mountains, near the border with Co Tipperary.

Limerick Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) sheep chair Eddie Moriarty spoke with a farmer who came upon the aftermath of the attack.

“I was talking to a shepherd in the Galtee Mountains and he told me it was one of the saddest scenes he had seen for a while,” said Moriarty.

On top of the financial burden of the sheep killed, Moriarty added that there is the cost of sending the dead lambs to the knackery and, in this case, the additional issue of trying to get a knackery to collect them at Christmas.

Further losses

Moriarty, who had 16 lambs killed himself years ago, said a dog attack can cause losses for a sheep farmer long after the attack is over.

“That sheep farmer will be having losses for the next 12 months over that,” he said.

The IFA Limerick sheep chair has experience of this. Dogs previously chased a hogget of his who managed to get away, but it subsequently died.

“That hogget died within 12 months. I found it in the field one day, dead from stress.

“Dogs affect sheep for years. My father always said, ‘Don’t ever buy sheep that were chased by dogs’. They’ll always be stressed and nervous,” he added.

Dog control

Moriarty, who is from nearby Anglesboro, said walkers not having their dogs on leads is an ongoing issue for farmers in the Galtee Mountains.

“I can only speak for the Galtee Mountain area - there is constant annoyance with people not minding their dogs.

“Farmers have no problem with people who bring dogs with them on a lead or anything like that, but it’s a big issue people not minding their dogs and there’s a lack of understanding from people,” he said.

Dogs of all sizes can worry sheep, so it’s important all dogs are kept under control, Moriarty added.

“People are going out for a stroll with their nice, little pet. The nice, little pet mightn’t kill sheep, but he’ll run them all over the hill. The bigger dog will kill.

“Sheep get exhausted, especially from now on when they are in-lamb, they get weaker. Sheep are weak in the mountains this winter because of the bad weather we’re having,” he said.