A devastated farmer has told how he found almost 50 of his lambs drowned in a well.

Shropshire sheep farmer Clive Taylor discovered 48 lambs in a well on his land after one of his ewes approached him, clearly in distress.

“Even though I had three dogs with me, she just came straight over, pleading, totally unafraid of the dogs,” he said.

“I looked over towards where she had come from and saw that a heavy concrete lid on a well in the middle of the field had been slid back.”

Mr Taylor went over to investigate and found the well open and full of dead lambs.

“I’ll never forget looking down into that well, it was one of the most horrific things I have seen, and that’s saying quite a lot.”

It was clear someone had opened the well, which was covered by a heavy four-inch thick concrete slab measuring a metre square.

“I think someone has removed the lid and the lambs have then crowded around and jumped or slipped in one after the other,” he said.

The lid had been placed neatly on its side, next to the opening. A public footpath runs through the field, he added.

Mr Taylor said he had been overwhelmed by support from his fellow farmers after relating what had happened on the British Farming Forum website.

“Although it is a small hole, it opens up into quite a big well, probably about six feet in diameter,” he said.

“If you saw it, you could see how interesting it would be for a lamb to look down into it, especially if another lamb had just fallen in and was making a noise.”

Mr Taylor said he planned to cover the well with a three-tonne weight which would be more difficult to move.