Sheep mutilated in ‘brutal’ incident in Co Down field

Ears cut off eight animals during attack which resulted in deaths of six from flock

Eight sheep had their ears cut off and three others were stabbed in the throat in an incident in a Co Down field. File image: iStock.

Eight sheep had their ears cut off and three others were stabbed in the throat in an incident in a Co Down field. File image: iStock.

 

Eight sheep had their ears cut off and three others were stabbed in the throat in an incident in a Co Down field which has been condemned by an animal welfare charity.

The flock was attacked on a farm on the Temple Hill Road in Ballyholland, near Newry, some time between 8.30pm on Tuesday and 8.30am on Wednesday, police said.

Threes of the animals were found dead and three others had to be put down by a vet due to their injuries.

Another flock belonging to a farmer in the Ballyholland area was attacked about two weeks ago. In that incident a number of sheep died after suffering a range of injuries, including four of them having their ears cut off.

Ruairi McCartney, whose father runs the farm targeted this week, told the BBC he was “completely devastated” by what had happened.

“One of the neighbours who lives close to the field called my Dad this morning,” he said. “It was just shocking. At first I thought it might have been a dog attack. But when I saw it, some of the sheep had their ears sliced off the whole way down, while others had just been cut.”

‘No grudges’

Mr McCartney said: “There are no grudges held around here, so I don’t understand who would have done this.”

David Wilson of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) described the attack as “an appalling event”.

“There have been instances of mutilation of sheep in the past, it occasionally happens, and it is hard to put a reason to it,” he said. “We have no power of investigation in this instance but we would ask anyone with information to pass it to the authorities.”

Campbell Tweed, Northern Ireland chairman of the National Sheep Association, said he was thankful that attacks like this are rare.

“What happened today is bizarre and horrible,” he said. “It was very disappointing there was no progress on prosecution in relation to a similar attack in Armagh two years ago.”

The North’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said it was investigating the incident.

A PSNI Inspector Denise Graham appealed to the public to contact the force or the Crimestoppers charity if they had information about the “brutal attack”.