A SHEEP farmer in Landford is urging fellow farmers to beware of gun attacks on their livestock after two of his ewes were shot dead.

Lee Cobern made the grim discovery on December 23 and believes those behind the crime were after the meat, either for themselves or to sell on. Both ewes had been shot in the head at close range and left in the field near the A36 on Earldoms Farm.

Mr Cobern knows it happened sometime between 5pm and 7pm and believes he disturbed the perpetrators before they had time to finish what they had started.

He said: “Over the last two or three weeks a few of the ewes started lambing as one of the rams got through a fence back in the summer so on that Sunday we were checking up on them frequently.

“I’d been there at 5pm and went back at 7pm and shone my torch over the gateway – I could see something had spooked them because all the sheep had flocked together in a corner of the field – normally they’re all around the feeding area.

“I shone the torch around the rest of the field and saw two sheep on the ground – I walked across to them thinking they were lambing and saw they were both dead.”

Thinking it was a dog attack due to the amount of blood on one, Mr Cobern was shocked to discover a bullet hole. He contacted the gamekeeper who came and found the second sheep had also been shot - through the ear.

Both ewes had horns and the fact they were shot around the ears has led farmers to believe whoever killed the sheep knew exactly what they were doing.

Mr Cobern said: “There is a layby next to the field which is completely hidden from the road and I thought maybe they had driven up there in the dark and shot over the hedge but it looks like they walked across the field and put a rifle to their heads.

“I’ve heard of this happening in other parts of the country, where in one case the sheep’s head, fleece and guts were left behind, but this is the first time I’ve come across it in this area.”

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “This matter has been passed onto the Rural Crime Team and Farmwatch as it is important to build up an intelligence picture should anything like this happen again.”