FARMER John Burrows says that, for the first time in 25 years farming, he has had a number of lambs taken by foxes or badgers.

Even worse, on Monday morning a stockmen on his farm found a ewe that he says had been eaten alive while lambing.

Now Mr Burrows, who farms at Coombe Farm, Stitchcombe near Marlborough, is calling for better control of foxes and badgers.

He says that the two-year-old ewe, who had lambed before, had died from shock and loss of blood. The sheep was one of 750 currently lambing.

The former filmmaker's 15th century home nestles back into the hills and looks out over one of the most beautiful Wiltshire landscapes.

To tourists the scene is a country idyll, sheep and lambs grazing in the water meadows. However Mr Burrows said visitors do not see the other side of the story, when foxes and badgers go on the prowl.

The ewe that died this week, he said, was probably the victim of a marauding badger out searching for food for its young.

The fact that the ewe's udder was partly consumed pointed to the work of a rogue badger but Mr Burrows said it was likely that foxes had also joined in the macabre feast.

Mr Burrows said: "She was down giving birth and at that particular time she was at her most vulnerable.

"Once she had lambed and got to her feet she would have been able to protect her lamb or lambs.

Mr Burrows blames foxes and badgers for the loss of three or four lambs that have disappeared recently.

His sheep lamb naturally out in the open but as soon as the lambs are born the mothers and young are taken into pens for protection during the first few days of rearing.

Mr Burrows said there had been a huge increase in the number of badgers in recent years and in foxes since hunting was discontinued in that part of the Kennet Valley.

He said the Vine and Craven Hunt used to keep down the foxes and in the past farmers had been allowed to control badgers by destroying setts.

Mr Burrows said he was not a particular advocate of hunting and was against killing for killing's sake. But, he said: "We should be managing the countryside better."

Mr Burrows who farms 160 acres, said the loss of the ewe and lamb would cost him about £100 at a time when stock-producing was hardly paying its way.

He wished more people would understand that animals like badgers and foxes needed to be managed.