CATTLE rustlers have cost a St Tudy farmer an estimated £250,000 after 17 of his Belgian Blue Cross herd were stolen from his farm in the dead of night.
Farmer Tony Weaving was awoken in the early hours of November 23 by the sound of a calf bawling in distress only to discover that 17 of his cattle had been taken – with a further 12 in position ready to be loaded onto another trailer.
The incident at Mr Weaving's Penhale Farm 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 were 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.
"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.
"150 of the herd were due to be sold in December but that's now fallen through because of the new reactor classifications."
This is not the first time that Mr Weaving's farm has been targeted by criminals – in May 2012 three bullocks were killed on the farm in a series of brutal attacks.
Mr Weaving will reward those who can provide information leading to the safe return of the cattle.
He said: "I don't want anybody to testify in court or anything like that, I just want information leading to the safe return of those 17 cows, and for that I am offering a £5,000 reward."
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.
A police spokesman said: "We are seeking information as to the whereabouts of these cattle and who is responsible." Call Bodmin police on 101, quoting BB/13/1886.