A FAMILY of sheep farmers on Anglesey have been left devastated after a double dog attack on their pedigree Jacob flock.

When Esther Howie went for her routine check-up on the family she found four of her small select flock had been badly injured. After dealing with those she returned to find more had been attacked.

Now her business hangs in the balance.

The Howie family moved to a holding near Rhosmeirch seven years ago and have put a lot of time, effort and money into improving and maintaining the land.

Both Esther and her husband Neil also work extra jobs to support their life-long dream of having a smallholding.

Esther already had a flock of pedigree Jacob sheep when they moved to the island and has since added a few Shetland sheep into the mix.

Having been busy building up her Jacob flock for over 12 years now, she breeds primarily for wool to support her start-up business Tyddynys.

She only lambs a few selected ewes each year, carefully choosing which ewes to put to which ram for improving fleece for the craft industry.

So it came as a huge shock when she found out that her flock had been attacked by a dog, leaving her devastated and the business hanging in the balance.

She said: “My main holding is on Anglesey, but a while back I was offered a piece of land to graze near Bangor – a great piece for my hill sheep, who are really not that impressed with the terrain at home.

“It’s a good-sized piece of land with a nice big shelter. The landlady lives on one side and a friend on the other to keep an eye on the ewes for me when I can’t be there. I moved my Jacob ewes up there for the winter and they were thriving.

“Until January this year. I went up for my usual visit during my lunch hour at work and noticed that a mule ewe – my landlady’s adopted pet lamb that now lives with us – had fresh blood coming through her fleece.”

A large area of grass in the centre of the field was strewn with clumps of fleece.

“I contacted the police and was quite shaken that this could have happened in a seemingly safe and protected area. I had 11 ewes in that field – four of them had injuries – significant injuries that I couldn’t treat with a bit of spray alone.

“I realised I was going to have to bring these ewes back to the holding to shear the fleece where they had been attacked and properly clean and treat the wounds.

"It took me a whole day to deal with these four ewes – my husband had to leave his work for the afternoon to come and help me move them,” said Esther.

The decision was made to bring all of the ewes out of the field for the time being. It was not an easy decision as the fields at the main holding were waterlogged and not really able to sustain the additional livestock.

By the time she arrived to pick up the ewes, they had been attacked again.

“We were absolutely horrified at what we found – the dog had obviously been back. One ewe had been attacked and left stranded on her back, another was severely injured and was hiding in the back of the field shelter.

There was nothing the vet could do for her pet lamb Bambi and she had to be put down. Another ewe

The FUW Llangefni office contacted the police for her and she was soon back at the field, being interviewed by a very understanding and compassionate officer from the rural crime team.

Between time taken away from work, vet's fees, additional feed cost and medication, the incident had already cost over £1,600.

“Besides the obvious pain and distress caused to the ewes themselves, I really can’t afford to treat any more injuries or lose any more of my stock," she said.

"This has affected almost half my breeding stock and has knock-on consequences far beyond the loss of life itself."