A ewe from a flock cultivated at a former royal residence has been found dead after apparently being mauled by an out of control dog.
Farmer Ronnie Brown had bought the animal from the Castle of Mey farms last year in a bid to better his own stock.
Ronnie said at the time of its death on Monday the ewe was pregnant, possibly with twins, and that when he first spotted it lying on the hillside near Pitlochry, he thought it was in the process of lambing.
However, when he got closer to the stricken animal, which was lying just metres from a public right of way, he saw that half its face had been eaten away.
He said he is convinced the injuries were caused by a dog as badgers generally attack the mammary areas and foxes take away whole lambs.
“It was about 50 yards off the right of way,” he said. “I saw it from a field away, just lying down. Initially I thought it was lambing but half its face was away.
“This is what happens when dogs are walked near sheep without leads.
“Sheep worrying is getting worse because people don’t train their kids, never mind their dogs. Some people think they can walk wherever they like with their dogs.”
He said the loss of the ewe and her lambs would put him several hundred pounds out of pocket.
“It was a Texal cross from the Castle of Mey – what was the Queen Mother’s breeding stock. They sell off their surplus every year.
“I bought about 25 in Dingwall market last autumn because I wanted to get better lambs. They were quality breeding sheep, they weren’t rubbish.
“The ewe cost me about £130 and the lambs are worth £60 to £70 at three months old, more if you keep them longer or for breeding stock.”
The Castle of Mey was bought by the Queen Mother following the death of her husband in 1952, and handed over to a trust in 1996. Prince Charles is still a regular visitor.