A DEVASTATED farmer has described the moment he found 29 dead lambs in his field as ‘like a war zone’.

Steve Gunn has urgently called on dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead after he found dozens of lambs - some only four days old - had been mauled and trampled to death.

“People need to put their dogs on leads, but it’s a bit late for that advice now,” said Mr Gunn, who farms at Leighton House, Slack Head, near Milnthorpe.

“You can’t imagine the fear those lambs were feeling before they died and the shock of us having to find them like that.

“Some of them were four or five days old. Now they’re dead.”

Police are now investigating the attack, which happened between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Mr Gunn said when officers saw what was left of the sheep ‘they had to turn away’.

“We think it happened at about three in the morning,” he said.

“Once the dog is gone what can you do about it?

“I can still see them even when they’ve been taken away in my head.

“Does anyone know what it’s like to pick up a small little creature and put it in a bin bag? It’s wrong. People need to understand what this causes.

“We had this happen to us a few years ago but we managed to catch the dog. This time nothing could be done.

“It was so horrible. It was like a war zone.”

The lambs were removed from the field but their loss have caused serious financial side effects to the farm.

He said each lamb was worth around £100.

Sheep worrying is a constant concern for farmers and land owners.

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron said it was ‘utterly heartbreaking news’

“I would strongly urge anyone who has any information on this tragic incident to please contact the police,” he said.

“This must also serve as a stark reminder of the devastating potential consequences if you don’t keep your dog on a lead when walking through a field with livestock in it.

“It’s so, so important that we all follow the Countryside Code and act responsibly if we are to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.”

The farm is owned by Dallam Tower Estate.

A spokesman said: “The Dallam Tower Estate is shocked by the incident of sheep worrying at the weekend.

“The unnecessary deaths of 29 lambs are a significant emotional and financial loss for any farming business. This is unfortunately not an isolated incident and is part of an upward trend in sheep worrying nationally. Greater awareness of the Countryside Code and the damage that dogs can cause to livestock is needed together with dog owners taking greater responsibility for their pets.

“A dog does not have to take hold of a lamb for the lamb to subsequently die from stress or exhaustion. There is no excuse that “the dog was simply playing and would not harm anything”; this is simply not the case. We appeal to anyone who may have heard or seen anything at the weekend to contact 101.”

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said: “Police were contacted at around 5:53pm on 29th March to a report of what is believed to be an incident of sheep worrying at a farm at Slack Head, Milnthorpe.

“It was reported that 29 lambs were found deceased by the owner.

“Anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting incident number 187 of 29 March.”