Hundreds of sheep stolen as livestock rustlers target UK farms

UK farms have been targeted by livestock rustlers who steal animals and sell them on the black market. 

UK livestock theft cost an estimated £2.7 million in 2022.

A farm in Powys is one of the many smallholdings targeted by livestock rustlers in recent months. The thieves have stolen more than 70 sheep from the farm located in the Merthyr Cynog area, between December 2023 and February 2024. 

Dyfed-Powys Police’s Powys-based Rural Crime Team said that this is the latest in a series of sheep theft crimes reported recently in the area around Eppynt in Wales.

13 pregnant ewes were stolen from a field in Claudy during another rustler incident in County Derry, Ireland.

Unfortunately, this has not been an isolated incident in the area. In January, a total of 50 Texel and Suffolk-bred ewe lambs were also reported to have been taken from a field on Teenaght Road in Claudy. 

A police investigation has also been launched in Cumbria, England, after 25 sheep were stolen by livestock rustlers from a field between Appleby and Maulds Meaburn this month. 

READ MORE: 45 sheep killed in ‘absolutely traumatic’ dog attack

How can farmers handle livestock rustling?

According to the latest figures from NFU Mutual, UK livestock theft cost an estimated £2.7 million in 2022 and often lead to the animals being sold on the black market. 

NFU Mutual has published a number of steps that farmers can take to reduce the risk of their livestock being stolen. 

To deter livestock thieves, the insurer advises farmers to: 

  • Ensure stock is clearly marked and records are up-to-date.
  • When possible, graze livestock in fields away from roads or consider housing them inside.
  • Check stock regularly and vary the times of feedings and check-ups. 
  • Consider a high-tech marking system.
  • Join a farm or rural watch scheme to share information about rural crime in your area.
  • Ask neighbours to report any suspicious sightings to the police.
  • Dial 999 immediately if an incident is taking place – do not approach criminals.

READ MORE: Livestock worth £1.8m killed and injured by dogs in just one year

Read more rural crime news.

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