For centuries farmers, dogs and sheep have worked together successfully and harmoniously, with sheep dogs playing a vital role on farms.

However other untrained dogs, frequently domestic pets, that attack sheep flocks can cause death and injury to sheep, including causing subsequent loss of lambs and failure for animals to thrive.

Three weeks ago on 26 April a flock was attacked on commonage on the Knockmealdown Mountains in Co Tipperary. 27 sheep died.

An Alsatian dog was shot dead at the scene.

There was another serious attack in that area before Christmas in which more than 20 animals died.

Such attacks are happening around the country.

Last month Michael Lynn's sheep in Ballinea, Co Westmeath were attacked on two successive nights.

"Over two days there were 16 ewes that died or had to be put down and other ewes are still having stillborn lambs," he said.

"Some of the sheep are still in a daze, or are off their food. These were big dogs and we have our suspicions where they came from.

"On the second night my son heard these dogs barking again so we went down and they had attacked two flocks of sheep. When we tried to get them out of the field they turned on us, they were big guard dogs."

He said gardaí are investigating the incident but no dog has not been put down.

Aside from the financial loss, Mr Lynn says its very distressing for him and his family.

"Its very distressing to see the state the sheep are in and then you are worried with every dog that barks or every time the sheep bleat. You are on edge with it."

Farmers are now calling for action from Government to make dog owners accountable for sheep attacks.

"Nationally we estimate there is about 400 attacks happening per year and these horrific attacks have to stop," said Kevin Comiskey, the National Sheep Chairman with the Irish Farmers' Association.

He said there needs to be a national database of microchipping and licensing information for dogs, along with the names of their owners.

The farming organisation is due to the meet Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys tomorrow.

"We want proper sanctions in place and penalties to reflect the enormous and horrendous attacks that take place and farms," Mr Comiskey said.

"The funding must be put in place for enforcement of sanctions in court in the proper manner."

RTÉ News understands Minister Humphreys is considering raising the existing fine for dog owners whose dogs attack sheep from €2,500 to €5,000 or higher.

The Minister is also looking at the area of enforcement.