Over 100 sheep were attacked by what have been described as savage, large and powerful dogs near Dunshaughlin, Co Meath.
A Meath farmer discovered the sheep on an out-farm on Saturday morning and believes the attack happened over several hours between Friday night and the time he came upon the scene.
Five ewes were killed by the dogs and a further three were euthanised by the attending vet soon after due to their injuries.
Another 10 ewes are currently receiving intensive treatment and are unable to lift their heads due to the wounds to their necks.
The ewes, which are due to lamb from 10 February, were in a large 60ac field, which the flock owner said allowed them to “run in different directions”.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal he said: “If the field was any smaller and they had less room to run, there would have been a lot more damage.”
The dogs had left the scene by the time the flock owner had arrived at the field, but upon inspecting the paw tracks, as well as the wounds on the sheep, the farmer believes they were large and powerful dogs.
“We have suspicions, but you don’t know the dogs until you catch them in the act.
“These dogs were at the sheep for hours and would have returned home covered in blood.”
He said the type of wounds on the sheep, predominantly to the front and back of the neck and scratch marks on the backs of the animals, suggest that the dogs were large enough to jump up on their backs and overpower the sheep in that way.
The farmer said that the “real cost” of the dog attack won’t be known until lambing, but conceded that his sheep “will never be the same again”.
The farmer is appealing for information in relation to the sheep attack, including from individuals who may be aware that their neighbour’s dogs have rambled at this time.
Gardaí are investigating the incident and anyone with information is asked to contact the Dunshaughlin station on 01-825 8600 or 01-801 0600.