SSPCA found Carnwath sheep with untreated injuries

Ewe was found with numerous deep cuts  (Picture from SSPCA)
Ewe was found with numerous deep cuts (Picture from SSPCA)

A smallholder who injured a sheep badly while shearing it left the wounds to become so infected that the SSPCA – alerted by a concerned member of the public – had to call in a vet who then destroyed the ewe.

And a Texel-cross ewe lamb, injured when a gate fell on it, was also left with an untreated injury to the point where the whole joint was destroyed by infection, and it too had to be put down.

Now John Girdwood is likely to be banned from keeping animals.

At Lanark Sheriff Court on Wednesday Girdwood (63) of Planton Toll, Carnwath, pled guilty to a lengthy charge spelling out what had happened to the animals.

He admitted inflicting an excessive number of clipping injuries – a post mortem revealed 24 of them – with some said to be excessively large; and then failing to treat these incised wounds to the ribs and flank of the adult Texel cross ewe adequately, failing to provide sufficient antibacterial and anti-inflammatory protection, and failing to protect the wounds adequately from flies, resulting in maggots being present; and failing to prevent body-wide infection, and allowing the ewe to become severely dyhydrated, run a fever and become moribund.

The same charge stated that he failed to provide adquate pain relief and other treatment to the joint injury in the lamb’s back leg, resulting in a large abscess and infection which destroyed the joint.

On Wednesday the court heard the SSPCA had previously given Girdwood a warning about the care of his sheep. But in July last year the charity received an anonymous complaint alleging that sheep were suffering from flystrike, and went to the smallholding.

They found the ewe with “numerous deep cuts”. The wounds were not fresh, but were smeared with dried blood, and the sheep was “dispirited” and unable to get up when she tried to stand.

“It was very clear she was suffering due to her injuries,” said depute fiscal Lindsay Mains.

The lamb had been injured and its hoof was twisted back.

“The lamb attempted to walk on it and was dragging the foot along the ground,” said Ms Mains.

Both animals were destroyed to prevent further suffering.

A vet brought in by the SSPCA thought the ewe had been clipped by an inexperienced person, but Girdwood said he had done it, and that he had applied Stockholm tar to the wounds. He accepted causing the animals unecessary suffering.

His solicitor said that Girdwood had been involved in animal husbandry for 30 years, and that Stockholm tar was an “old way” of dealing with wounds.

“It is the way he has always done it,” said the solicitor, adding that Girdwood had applied sheep dip to the maggots. “That is what he was brought up with.”

Sheriff Nikola Stewart was considering banning him from keeping animals, and deferred sentence for four weeks to allow Girdwood to get rid of his small flock of sheep. She also called for information on his fincances.