A sheep farmer is fearing for his flock after cruel youngsters are going into his field and putting his animals lives at risk.
Aaron Whitehouse says he was deeply saddened when he caught a number of teenagers chasing the animals, before attempting to turn them onto their backs, on Saturday.
Not only does this leave the animals vulnerable to predators, but it is also could lead them to die a slow and painful death.
The 21-year-old, who owns 27 sheep, was able to save any of his animals from harm, but says the issue of teenagers terrorising his animals has gone too far.
It took Mr Whitehouse several hours to locate them and herd them back onto the land in Mill Lane, Hebburn.
I’m trying to educate children by going into schools about it. They can’t get up themeselves if they are on their backs and if they are not found in time, they die a slow and painful death.Aaron Whitehouse
Mr Whitehouse said: “I’ve issues going on back to July and on Saturday I found a group of children chasing the sheep and trying to get them onto their backs. They could die.
“I’m trying to educate children by going into schools. Sheep can’t get up themselves if they are on their backs. If they are not found in time, they die a slow and painful death.”
In order to digest grass sheep have a four-chambered stomach, with the largest chamber known as the rumen. This is the area where fibrous food ferments, which produces gas.
If the sheep is on it’s back, the gas can’t escape causing pressure on its lungs, and suffocating it.
Mr Whitehouse, who studied at East Durham College’s Houghall agricultural campus and for the past three years has worked at a farm at Houghton, added: “Something needs to be done to stop this.
“The field is being attacked quite regularly. I’ve had hay set alight which was going to be used to feed the sheep - it left me with no food for them for two months, friends and family had to help me out. I’ve had fencing broken.
“I’m trying to set myself up with a career, but these people are making it so difficult. This isn’t a laughing matter, they are ruining my livelihood and putting my animals lives at risk.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “We are aware of concerns about youngsters entering a field in Hebburn and causing distress to the local livestock.
“Neighbourhood officers attended the field on Saturday night and spoke to three youngsters about their behaviour.
“They are also speaking to the owners of the field to help prevent any further incidents.”