Cattle rustlers have cost a Cornish farmer an estimated £250,000 after 17 of his Belgium blue cross herd were stolen in the dead of night.
Farmer Tony Weaving was awoken by the sound of a calf bawling in distress only to discover that 17 of his cattle had been taken – with a further 12 cows in position ready to be loaded on to another trailer.
The incident at Mr Weaving’s Penhale Farm at St Tudy could not have come at a worse time as the herd was due to have its tuberculosis (TB) results announced on the day of the incident.
As 17 of the herd was absent, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) representatives had to class the entire herd of 250 cattle as TB reactors, significantly reducing their market value.
Mr Weaving is offering a £5,000 reward for information leading to the cattle’s safe return.
He said: “This couldn’t have happened on a worse night, the total cost of the stolen cattle is about £7,000 but that is not the real cost – this will have huge implications for our sales,” he said.
“The TB results were due to be read on the day of the incident but because 17 of the cows were absent the whole herd were classed as TB reactors even though they don’t have TB.
“Cattle classed as TB reactors can only be sold to restricted farms, meaning their value drops significantly. As it stands they will have to be slaughtered, and we have estimated that this could cost us £250,000.
“One hundred and fifty of the herd were due to be sold in December but that’s now fallen through because of the new reactor classifications.”
Mr Weaving is hoping that if the 17 cattle are returned the DARD will re-classify the rest of the herd as negative TB reactors, thus lifting the trading restrictions.