A DEVASTATED sheep breeder has called on owners to keep their dogs on leads after a newly born lamb, one of triplets, was killed on the family farm.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking, I can't believe it but we are sure it was a dog attack," said Alison Stevenson, from Liverton, near Saltburn.

The champion breeder discovered the lamb which had puncture wounds to her skull and jaw outside in their field on Sunday morning. The mother and two other lambs were inside the barn. Mrs Stevenson who shows with husband John and nephew Jacob has won countless awards at shows up and down the country.

She added: "It's really hard to put into words how upsetting it is. We have Zwartble and Bleu du Maine flocks with around 55 sheep as well as a commercial flock of 50 and I just want to say to dog owners to please, please keep your dogs on leaders.

"No matter how much you think they won't harm lambs they might and it's a nightmare for us. That lamb was absolutely perfect and could have been a potential champion. But it's the upset for the animals that is devastating.

"We really don't believe it could have been a fox, they kill for food, two gamekeepers have had a look and we all think it was dogs.

"Even a Yorkshire Terrier or a Chihuahua can wreak havoc, and at the moment it is lambing time, even if the dogs don't attack the sheep they can cause them to abort and the lambs are traumatised."

Mrs Stevenson said it is the first time she has had animals attacked. "I did have to tackle one dog owner after their spaniel was found running round the flock, but then they weren't in lamb at that time. It is so shocking and sad.

"My husband is a third generation farmer but I only started breeding sheep around six years ago and I absolutely love it, the Zwartbles are fabulous sheep, great mothers, this really shouldn't be happening."

Anyone with information contact the police on 101.