A cow has been savaged and killed by at least one and possibly a pack of dogs on farmland in the Cheddar Valley.
Farmer Stephen Brinsom, who looks after a 150 strong herd on the slopes of Crook Peak, made the gruesome discovery last Friday morning.
The seven-year-old Hereford had clearly tried to escape her attackers, but had been repeatedly bitten about the haunches.
The farmer who studied the wounds is convinced that it was a dog, or possible several, who had repeatedly torn at her flesh. She had been run to the edge of the field, become trapped under the wire and had died underneath the fencing.
Mr Brinsom, who lives at South Croft Farm on Cross Lane, was shocked at the discovery but, after a recent killing of one of his sheep, was sadly not totally surprised.
“It is the first time we have ever lost a cow like this, it’s a real shame,” he said.
“But it was only three weeks ago that we found a lamb that had been savaged.
“It is sad, but what people probably don’t realise is that we have also lost a lot of money.”
The National Farmers Union say they have never heard of a cow being killed in such a way.
NFU spokesman Ian Johnson, who covers the South West region said: “It is certainly very unusual and what a tragedy for cattle to be killed in this way. Ironically it is more usual to hear about cattle chasing dogs.”
The union, which represents farmers across the UK, says they are used to reports of sheep being savaged.
In some cases flocks have been chased and herded and then several animals have suffocated as they clambered over each other to escape.
“The only time I have personally heard of cow dying as a result of dog attacks is when they have been run off cliffs by a marauding dog,” said Mr Johnson.
“Members of the public need to understand that having a dog is a responsibility and it is a privilege, not a right. They have to keep their animals under control.”
Aside from the emotional impact of losing livestock, the killing also was a severe economic blow to the farm.
The cow was valued at over £1,200 but the farmer also had to pay £110 to have the carcass disposed of.
“We see dogs on the run all the time up here,” said Mr Brinsom.
“We aren’t even asking owners to keep their dogs on a lead, simply to keep them under control and close.”
The farm manages 1,200 acres of land, on which it also keeps 350 sheep. Over the past four years dogs have attacked and killed at least 12 of his sheep.
PSCO Matt Hawker said: “We would appeal to dog walkers to keep their pets close and under control while they are near livestock. No one wants to see these kind of attacks.We of course take it very seriously.”