LIVESTOCK farmers in Warwickshire are being warned to be on their guard following incidents of illegal butchery involving cattle.
Stratford-based rural insurer NFU Mutual and police are urging farmers to report any suspicious activity following incidents in neighbouring Worcestershire in recent weeks.
One case saw cows killed with their hooves bound but left behind in the field, while another saw two cows slaughtered and their heads and internal organs left in the fields.
It comes as NFU Mutual’s latest figures reveal livestock theft cost an estimated £2.7million in 2022 – up nearly nine per cent.
Hannah Binns, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, said: “It is alarming to hear about these deeply disturbing crimes and the impact on farmers and their families who find the gruesome remains of slaughtered animals in the fields.
“Rearing cattle is a lengthy process, with months of hard work and planning going into their keep. Such attacks like these will be devastating for farmers both emotionally and financially.
“To deter thieves, we advise farmers to ensure stock is clearly marked and records are up-to-date, vary times of feeding and checking on stock, consider relocating stock to fields away from roads or housing indoors if possible and report any suspicious activity to the police.
“We are also concerned meat from stolen animals is being sold on the illicit market and undermining welfare standards. Meat which has been butchered in unhygienic conditions, and may be from animals which have received medical treatment, poses a real threat to human health. We advise the public to not buy meat from unusual sources.”
Supt Andy Huddleston, who heads up the National Rural Crime Unit, urged anyone with information to come forward
He added: “These are horrific killings of livestock that are deeply worrying.
“The inhumane slaughter of these animals and impact it has had upon the farms concerned is terrible and we are working to bring those responsible to justice.
“Together with the NFU Mutual we are calling for rural communities to report suspicious behaviour and if not already, join your local rural watch scheme.”
Livestock theft is a age-old crime and remains one of the costliest to farming. With claims reported to NFU Mutual regularly involving over 50 sheep taken in a single raid, livestock theft can have a big impact on breeding lines as well as being a huge worry for farmers about the welfare of their stock.